Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Gratitude by Noel Hynd

Five years ago, one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer. Seven months later, he passed away.

Another anecdote from the past: Several years ago, I was at the Detroit airport. Planes were late, overbooked, and overcrowded. One person in the group I was traveling with, someone I didn’t know well, was the calmest of those around me. He shrugged and smiled. “I’m just happy to be here,” he said.

Just happy to be here.

Back to the passing of my friend five years ago. My friend had been a tax attorney and had done quite well, working in New York and Brussels for several major firms. Shortly before his death, he said to me, “Here I am with all the money I could ever need. And I don’t have my health.” By age fifty-five, he was gone.

I made a decision shortly thereafter. I wished to do something out of my own gratitude for having more time on this earth. Several months later I was scanning at church one day when I saw a small item on the back page of that Sunday’s program. The church needed a few more volunteers for an upcoming annual one-week trip medical mission to Honduras. By coincidence, I had recently started taking lessons in Spanish. Sometimes everything falls together at once. Not long afterward, I was chosen to be a member of the mission. I would work in the three-person pharmacy, filling prescriptions from the 1000 pounds of medical supplies that we would lug with us.

The first trip came the following February. We bring doctors, nurses, counselors, translators and medical supplies to four remote communities in Honduras. One village is so remote that is a one mile trek up a mountain. The village has no electricity but 300 of the nicest people one would ever want to meet.

Now back to that airport in Detroit. I’m just happy to be here.

I later learned that the man who spoke those lines had himself been diagnosed with some horrible disease several years earlier. He had beaten the illness. So what difference would a little sleet storm make in his life? Not much. Lesson learned.

People like to tell us that it’s a wonderful thing we do each year, this mission to Honduras. My feeling is that it’s a wonderful thing that we are allowed to do. I look forward to the next trip to Honduras in February of 2009. I wouldn’t miss it. And I can honestly say, I will be very happy just to be there.

Noel Hynd lives in Culver City, California. He is the bestselling author of several highly acclaimed action/suspense thrillers which have been translated into 7 foreign languages around the world. His most recent, The Enemy Within, is a mass market paperback from Tor/Forge in August 2008. He has over four million books in print


Angie Ledbetter said...

What a find post, and attitude toward life. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm just glad to be here too.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Just happy to be here. Yeah. *smiling* what more can I say? Thank you for posting and being with us.

Anonymous said...

Using a positive response when asked "how are you" always gets a double-take. My favorite response is "Doing great, I don't have a choice" It never fails to draw a smile or an open-mouthed stare. It works for me.
Oren (FOA)

Patresa Hartman said...

what a great snapshot! -- happy to be here. i would guess from that perspective, everything that was small before, becomes big, and everything that was big before becomes small. it's a wonder how we ever get so flip flopped in the first place.

Barbara Quinn said...

So happy that you are here, and there. Enjoyed this.

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