I’ve been asked to write about ‘what Make-A-Wish Southern Florida means to me,’ but I’d rather share what this wonderful organization and its families have taught me.
While I’m (a little) sorry about not following directions, the perspective gained through the eyes of a little girl is what has stayed with me, nearly a dozen years after she and I met on Fort Lauderdale beach.
Natalie was from Texas and had been through a lifetime of surgeries, even though she was only eight at the time. Her favorite movie was “Titanic” and she had spent much of her recovery time(s) dreaming about the ocean, which she had never seen in “real life.” When Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers presented the young girl a world full of wish possibilities, she said she’d be happy with a bologna sandwich and green grapes, as long as the food came with an ocean view.
In the movies, Natalie’s long-awaited meeting with the Atlantic would be accompanied by a sunshine-filled chamber of commerce day, but this day was overcast, with wind blowing hard enough that you could feel the sand hitting your skin. While the adults fretted over the weather and worried that it would ruin the wish experience, I noticed that Natalie had a look of pure contentment as she munched on her picnic lunch and gazed at the waves crashing on the shoreline. It was apparently as beautiful as she’d imagined and a little wind wasn’t going to ruin the moment she had waited so patiently for.
I felt small that day, not because I was standing next to a large ocean, but because a sick child was able to see what the healthy adult was overlooking. Nature is its own wonder, happiness comes from within, it’s important to appreciate special moments, everyday life can be beautiful, and if a bologna sandwich is what you like, don’t ask for filet mignon just because you can.
Thanks, Natalie, and Make-A-Wish, for helping me see what’s really important.
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(This post was originally written for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida’s blog. The nonprofit organization is an Impact Players client).