Little things mean a lot. Here’s a memory I’ll not soon forget:
I woke in a hotel room, sunlight on my face. Where was I? Why was I there? Slowly, it started coming back to me.
I’d flown thousands of miles to speak at a fundraiser for some worthy cause that, for the life of me, I could not seem to recall.
It was scheduled to take place that morning in the conference room downstairs. I’d stayed up late the night before polishing my speech. As keynote speaker, I would talk while everyone else ate, starting at 9:15 sharp.
No hurry. I like to take my time getting ready. I’d set the clock by the bed for 7 a.m.
But wait. I hadn’t heard the alarm. Maybe it wasn’t 7 yet? Changing time zones always throws me. I squinted at the clock and read ... 9:05 a.m.!!
And so it began, a frantic comedy of errors that felt a lot like my worst nightmare.
No time to shower, brush my teeth or use a curling iron.
I grabbed my suit out of the closet, then stood horrified staring at my suitcase. The only top I had packed to wear was my husband’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt.
Also, I had no shoes. Not the fancy ones I’d planned to wear, or even the ugly ones I’d worn on the plane. I finally found one of the uglies, but not its mate.
If need be, I could speak in a Ninja Turtles T-shirt. With no make-up. And frizzy hair. But not half-barefoot in one shoe.
The clock said 9:15. Time to get serious. I would call the chairman of the event (Fred? Bill? What was his name?) to tell him I was running just a tiny bit late, and ask him if I could please borrow his shoes?
I never made that call. My phone was dead. I forgot to bring a charger. And the room phone by the bed kept telling me to hang up and dial 911.
Just when it seemed it could not possibly get worse, I woke up and realized I was dreaming.
Some days it’s worth waking up to be reminded, no matter how bad things seem, they could be worse. Waking up from a bad dream is a small thing. But it made me hugely happy.
It’s always the little things that seem to keep me afloat — that keep me walking on water when I feel like I’m about to drown.
A phone call from one of my kids just calling to talk. A hug from a grandkid just wanting a hug. A laugh shared with my husband laughing at ourselves. A FaceTime kiss from a toddler babbling “Nana!” A note from a reader saying she and her mother were praying for our safety, hoping our house didn’t burn. A thin patch of blue sky in a thick cloud of smoke. An act of kindness. A word of praise. An answered prayer for help. A quiet reassurance of hope.
Little things change the world.
This summer has been a living nightmare. The pandemic has caused us to live in fear of a deadly virus, profoundly changing our way of life. And more than a dozen states — especially California, the place my loved ones and I call home — have battled wildfires unlike any we’ve ever seen.
In a matter of weeks, my husband and I watched three separate blazes burn near our house. One of them forced us to evacuate for eight days. Thanks be to the grace of God and the heroic efforts of firefighters, our place was spared. But some 50 homes nearby were destroyed.
Fires continue to burn in every direction. Countless lives have been lost. And we’re all wearing masks, not only for COVID-19, but also for toxic smoke.
Years ago, after my first husband died, a friend sent me these lovely words: “Then, when it seems we will never smile again, life comes back.”
I want to believe that one day soon the pandemic and wildfires and other fears will end. We will wake up to find the nightmare is finally over. And life will come back, more beautiful, more precious, than ever before.
Until then, I’ll count on little things to keep me afloat.
Sharon Randall is a syndicated columnist. Contact her at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley, CA 93924 or via her website at www.sharonrandall.com.