Life is what happens to you, John Lennon observed, while you’re busy making other plans.
Last Monday, as I huddled intently over my computer, there was a knock at the door. Looking up, I was surprised to see a pair of former guests from Nevada; two years ago, their teenage daughter was treated for a rare illness at Legacy Emanuel. The girl had relapsed and was re-hospitalized—likely for a month.
“That’s one way to beat the heat,” I teased. Fortunately they were able to laugh.
Such “interruptions” are bittersweet. While I enjoy seeing past guests, I understand they’re not back by choice.
I imagine their feelings are similarly mixed. Clearly, they’re comfortable returning—and instantly at ease in the familiar environment. The welcome reception extended by staff members and volunteers feels like a family reunion. But another long journey into the medical unknown surely wasn’t part of this family’s summer plans.
For better and worse, life happens. Hopefully, we retain a sense of humor—and discover places like the Ronald McDonald House, where a loving embrace is the welcome consequence of life’s more serious interruptions.
One of my favorite stories—an adult fable disguised as a children’s book—is Jon J. Muth’s, The Three Questions. In it, a boy named Nikolai wants to know: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?
After receiving unsatisfying advice from his well-intended friends, Nikolai embarks on a journey which leads him to Leo, a wise old turtle—who spins the boy’s own experience into the answers he seeks.
Remember, Leo concludes, that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.
That’s a good plan for anything life throws our way. We’ll continue doing our best to practice it.
Tom Soma, Executive Director