It’s my son’s 21st birthday, and with it came a series of unfortunate events. He was in Las Vegas the day before he turned 21 and on that fateful day he lost his wallet, which held both ID and credit cards. In essence it killed all plans. No ID meant that he would not be able to drink, gamble or get into clubs. No bank card meant he had no access to cash. Oh, and let’s not forget that we still had to worry about how he would get through TSA security for the trip back. Even upon his return flight home, the airlines managed to lose his luggage.
All of this couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! The whole trip reminded me so much about a beloved Peanuts character, Charlie Brown, who seemed to unwittingly have this same kind of dumb luck. But then a single event happened that made us all appreciate the disastrous series of events. We, my son, daughter & I, understood exactly why everything had happened the way it did: it was supposed to happen.
Since we were limited to family-like activities, we decided to head downtown to do the zip lining on Fremont Street.
My son, Gus, was paired up with a young man who about 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. The two struck up some friendly conversation while they awaited their turn. It was good fun and they even exchanged Snapchat information before exiting. Later that evening, my son checked a message he received from the young man. It went something like this:
“Thanks so much for going on the zip line with me and for talking to me. You reminded me of my older brother, you’re a lot like him...he passed away earlier this year. Thanks for making this fun.”
Pause... it’s okay to reach for a tissue to wipe away that tear drop that just welled up.
I know that’s what my daughter and I did when he told us what had happened. In that moment, there was clarity as to why all the seemingly crazy and unfortunate events needed to be. For if Gus had not lost his ID, we would’ve likely been in the casinos and in the bars helping him initiate his rites of passage. We would’ve chosen to do all the 21 and over activities because he was, after all, now 21. But instead, we made the best of things doing the family-oriented activities… which would connect Gus – even for that brief interaction – with the young man who had recently lost his older brother.
Sometimes, when life is throwing us things that we didn’t want, we complain and resist because of our beliefs about how things should be or what we deserve. This type of thinking limits our sense of connection – a more universal connection that we’ve forgotten about… until moments like these turn up.
Many times, Charlie Brown’s dumb luck showed the Peanuts gang a larger sense of purpose and grander scheme to things.
May we all remember that sometimes, that which we didn’t ask for has happened not for our own sake... but for someone else’s.