When I learned I had gotten the position as an intern for The Rainbow Connection this summer, I had no idea what to truly expect. I was in the midst of preparing for finals at my college, Ohio University, and wrapping up my freshman year. My friends were in the room with me when I received the call informing me that I’d gotten the internship, and they were jumping up and down with me, just as excited as I was.
First, I’d like to make it clear that the wish kids I had the privilege of meeting in Michigan are unlike any other children I’ve ever known. When you talk to them, you feel something. They emanate hope, gratefulness, and empathy from their souls. They are kind, funny, and quick to help others. They are mature in a way some adults aren’t, in that they have seen the worst sides of life and still choose to smile.
I imagined I would learn so many things at The Rainbow Connection—how to create files for kids, collect donations, and maybe even help grant a wish! Little did I know, those lessons would pale in comparison to the bigger, more important lesson I learned during my time here at Rainbow—the unimportance of guarantee.
As a planner, I have always stressed (even lost sleep) over the worry that things will not go according to my plans. That all of my detailed notes about a day will be destroyed by an unexpected storm or inconvenience to deal with. What I learned from the wish children of Rainbow, however, is just how silly it is to try to plan everything. After all, the best moments are the moments we don’t expect.
In life, we are not guaranteed anything. We are not guaranteed tomorrow or the next day. We are not guaranteed the next hour. Those of us who do not have life-threatening illnesses often live in the fantasy land that we have forever—until we are ninety or one hundred, or perhaps even one hundred and fifty if modern medicine continues its advancements. But these children find joy in the smallest of moments. Whether their lives are still endangered by their conditions or not, these kids act as if every moment they are living is a gift—of that I am confident, because it is the only explanation for the joy they radiate.
Since my internship, I have found myself smiling at smaller moments. I see the beauty in things I did not before. I am thankful for unexpected hard rainfall because it saves me a trip to the car wash. I smile when I get to spend time alone, writing, because these quiet moments I’ve been granted are not my right, but a gift. And in everything I do, I think of the kids who completely transformed the way I see life, and redefined living life to the fullest.
They taught me that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be having fun every day—and I think that is the best lesson I ever could have learned.