These are chaotic times. How do I find light in the darkness and share it with my family?
With so much uncertainty swirling around the pandemic, paired with the pain, passion and raw energy sparking a new movement for social justice and equity, daily life is anything but routine. As a larger community, we are charting all new paths to what will be altered realities in many aspects of our lives. Through all of this, I keep finding hope.
Full disclosure, unearthing and experiencing hope is part of my job. I lead the regional chapter of an organization that grants wishes to critically ill children, so you could say I have a slight advantage in finding inspiration on a daily basis. What I’ve learned is that the size, form and extent of a wish doesn’t matter. What matters is that each child’s wish is pure because it is uniquely theirs — they get to own it. A wish fulfilled brings out a child’s true character, from a trip to Disneyland, to a toy drum set, to helping the homeless in the neighborhood. Wish kids are so proud to be in the moment when they put the emotional or physical pain on pause. All shyness and uncertainty melt away when they can be in such a joyful place — one created just for them; one that allows them to just be kids. These children are very sick, but they are true warriors who can teach us all something about staying open to embracing hope, even in the most challenging situations.
Hope Is in the Seemingly Small Things
One parent of a wish kid battling a cancerous brain tumor shared with us that the magic of a wish lies in its distraction. She got to see her son perk up when his simple wish of being a tractor driver was granted. Sweet, happy, 5-year-old Gregory was elated when he got to ride on a real farm tractor. The hope and newfound energy from that experience, his mother said, helped him carry on. It is like this for many wish children. Those moments of pure happiness and light give them the strength to make it through other times that can be dark and scary: another hospital visit or surgery, or treatments that take them away from home for months at a time.
It’s in Places You May Not Like at First
Our wish kids are admitted to pediatric and adolescent units and undergo months of treatments and procedures. While in this “second home” that they may dread, they start to take notice to a few things: how much the doctors and hospital staff care for them and their health. One patient even noticed there weren’t many games or entertainment for the younger patients. Near the end of his successful treatments, we learned about his wish: He wanted to give back to the hospital that gave him hope. Our wish team purchased electronics, video games, musical instruments and other fun games and activities for future young patients he’d never meet, but wanted to make sure they had some hope during treatment. Wish kids don’t allow negative situations to affect their state of mind, and manage to maintain a positive attitude even in difficult and unpleasant circumstances. This is something we can all be reminded of.
It’s Rooted in Selflessness
Several children have had wishes fulfilled that involved organizing food or clothes drives or doing something to help the homeless or less fortunate populations. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “No one has become poor by giving,” penned by Anne Frank, you only need to volunteer once to understand it. Growing up in nonprofit my career has inspired me and my family to be dedicated volunteers. Supporting those in need is enriching and beneficial to your community, not to mention, stepping away from your own world of concerns to hear the stories of others will make you more than grateful for all you have.
Call me an eternal optimist, but I believe finding hope is possible in the darkest of times. It really is all around you if you keep counting those little blessings.
Gloria Jetter Crockett is president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire.
(Opening Photo Courtesy of Pablo Heimplatz/Unsplash)