You know how some events or people in your life just stand out? Some things you think about often and some things you forget about until some random moment when it hits you and you remember it all over again. I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing over the past few days. My ten year high school reunion is next month…what?! How has it been ten years?! But while I was in Ohio last month, I took a look at my old year books. I flipped through the pages and looked at everything that defined my high school years; the clubs, the groups, the football games, the friends I had. Which then triggered all of these thoughts and memories that feel like so long ago, but yet can remember it like it were yesterday.
I had your normal high school experience. I made Honor Roll every quarter, was a member of National Honor Society, danced on the dance team, ran track (for fun haha), in Student Council and Treasurer for my class. I had a diverse group of friends, never really identifying myself as “popular” or “nerdy” or anything like that. Maybe other people looked at me another way, I don’t know. But I just felt average. I liked to think I was neutral and was friends with everyone. I attended a lot of the dances, sporting events, and parties with friends. I had it good. I guess you can say I somewhat lived in a bubble, where families were middle to upper class families and crime was low. Everyone was happy; sure there were issues here and there but for the most part, I attended a very peppy high school and lived in an area where people tended to do well in life.
As a member of Student Council, we often volunteered at local organizations. I can distinctly remember volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House one year. It may actually have been middle school, but the date doesn’t stick out as much as the experience. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Ronald McDonald House, it’s a facility that allows terminally ill patients and their families to stay at while they’re receiving treatment. Their costs are low, they receive meals from the facility, and they have transportation to and from the hospital if they need it. Our job while there was to help clean the rooms, restock the pantry, mop the floors, etc. We didn’t really see any families except maybe a quick “hi” as they left the building.
But as we were restocking the kitchen, a little boy and his family walked in and sat down at the piano. The boy’s name was Daniel, and he had a brain tumor. He was bald, wearing a blue bathrobe, and had a smile like nothing I had ever seen before. He had lost his vision from the tumor, but his smile stretched ear to ear and you could feel his presence while in his company. He was happy. He was happy, confident, and positive. I sat there in awe, never meeting anyone who was terminally ill and certainly not a child. Why? Why him? How did this happen? But I watched as he began to play songs on the piano, with guidance from his family members. I can’t remember if he was actually playing a song or just touching the keys, but I do remember his song. “Jesus loves me yes I know, for the Bible tells me so”.
It was a powerful moment for all of us. I fought back tears as I listened to this sweet boy sing a song that I’m not sure I would have been singing if that were me. We are often so quick to find the negative in situations that we don’t even think about the positive. And although I don’t think I could have found positive in that situation, Daniel did. And without even realizing it, he made an impact on us…
He reminded us that things are out of our control. We can take all the precautions we want and be as safe as we can be, but sometimes things happen that we can’t control. That even in the worst situations or terrible moments, we have to look for the positive in things. There is so much beauty around us, why dwell on the negative? That does nothing but make it worse or bring us down. I’ll admit, I’m often a pessimist. I’m always stressed, worried about something, and am quick to anger. And sometimes, I need to sit down and think of people like Daniel who had lost everything, but yet found faith there was a plan.
We have the chance each day to wake up and make it a good day. Sure, things may happen that we can’t control and that upset us or put us in a bad mood. But look at it in the big scheme of things. What’s that moment in the big picture? Is it worth the stress? Probably not. Life isn’t going to be cupcakes and rainbows, and there are going to be times in our lives when we question “why?” But if we can try and make each day beautiful, those bad days are going to be far less than the good.
I never saw Daniel or heard anything about his condition again. But I thought of him often for years. And for some reason today, I thought of him again and wanted to share this with all of you. Another lesson to be learned? You never know the impact you’re leaving on someone else’s life, whether or not you mean to. Make today beautiful friends, try to make everyday beautiful. Because despite all the bad, there is so much beauty to be found in the good.