An urban explorer and photographer got a big surprise when she tried to photograph an abandoned house that had intrigued her for a long time.
Leslie, known online as The Tourist, is an Ontario-based urban explorer. LittleThings describes urban exploration as the "exploration of man-made structures, places usually abandoned or hidden from the general public."
The Tourist takes photos of her discoveries as she explores Ontario. In 2015, on her birthday, she passed by an abandoned home that she had always been intrigued by and decided to finally take a look around. What she found inside changed her life forever.
Inside the house she found a man named Lawrence. She wrote about her experience in an Instagram post:
“This is Lawrence. He lives in a house I had believed to be abandoned. The driveway is overgrown, the roof is caving in and the interior would lead anyone to believe this land had been deserted. I found him in the living room. He has a hard time getting around so he spends most of his time in there. Alone.
He is missing his right eye and has cataracts infecting the left. Even after noticing a stranger essentially helping themselves to his life he was nothing but sweet and kind to me. He was even nice enough to let me take his picture which I will always treasure.
He is a beautiful soul and I plan on visiting him a lot. I’m posting this picture in hopes that it will inspire at least one person to reach out to someone they may have lost contact with or perhaps just forgot about. These old souls are still full of life and I feel blessed to have met this one.”
The post was followed by several other posts showing photos of Lawrence and his house, with stories about conversations the two have had since becoming friends.
The unlikely pair began regularly getting together, discussing life and learning about each other.
"Tonight was the first of what will be many dinner dates with my new friend," The Tourist wrote in one post. "Over the course of 3 hours we ate and drank and laughed. I was fortunate enough to hear about his life... his struggles and his triumphs."
After several more visits, Leslie shared an update about Lawrence with her followers.
"An update on my friend – he is in good spirits and is very happy to have some room in his home. I’ve managed to remove his old fridge, stove, and chest freezer, along with numerous bags of garbage and other content. This was all made possible by a very generous company and a few awesome boys with big hearts and strong lower backs. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support and generosity during this period in my life – and in his. He is beyond grateful, not just to me. He knows you are all following his story.
After a few recent visits to the doctors, it’s apparent that his health is declining, rapidly. These may be the last few months I have with my friend and I plan to make them as comfortable and enjoyable for him as possible. He’s informed me of his funeral arrangements and has asked me to be there. I told him I wouldn’t have it any other way.
He shared something with me that will stay with me forever. He said the day I showed up was the best day of his life. As self righteous as I feel writing that, I understand how he feels. The best day of my life was when I met him. He gave me the chance to really do something for someone – an act of kindness with no expectation of reward. It’s a rare opportunity and I’m glad I was able to accept the challenge."
Leslie shared another update saying that Lawrence is now living in a local retirement home and "doing much better" after suffering a stroke. She still regularly visits with him and says she brings her dog Violet, who has become a favorite with the residents of the home.
In February, the two spent Lawrence's birthday together.
Sometimes the universe truly works in mysterious ways and leads to incredible stories and relationships like Leslie and Lawrence's.