Somewhere in my collection of stuff, I have a neat little stack of Chinese fortune cookie inserts I've saved over the years because they couldn't possibly be chance.
Such as the one I got at a press conference back in 1991 when I was covering a visit by a then huge celebrity who was being brought into town by the owners of a Chinese restaurant. We reporters and photographers were treated to a big bowl of fortune cookies. No one had been digging in, so the restaurant owner made a plea for us to please take them all. Take them to our families and co-workers. Just take them!
I drew a fortune that read, "You will have success in everything you adopt."
I was just a few months away from the finalization of the adoption of my first child, a 10-year-old boy who'd been placed with me five years earlier and who had been subjected to some of the most astonishing red tape on the planet. He had been a handful. He had been more than a handful. There were times when he had been just shy of a nightmare. He'd had a very rough life before he came into my home. He desperately needed stability and love. But those things do not sit well initially with someone who has never had them before.
Of course, my eyes teared up, and I suppose my facial expression gave away any secrets I might have tried to keep from my (all male) peers and journalism competition.
"What's wrong with you?" they wanted to know. Surely this famous guy had not brought me to tears.
I gently placed the fortune down in front of me so they could read it for themselves, and I told them I was about to adopt a special needs child following a battle that had taken five years and more tears than I could count.
To my surprise, those pesky reporters dove into the over-sized punch bowl of cookies and ripped open every single one, crushed every single cookie and read every single fortune aloud. Not another cookie in the entire bowl contained the word adoption.
That fortune was just the shot of determination and perseverance I needed to get through the final few of months of tangled red tape. During the moments and sometimes hours of wondering where the convoluted process was taking me, I'd pull that tiny little treasure from my wallet and read it again.
"You will have success in everything you adopt."
The adoption was finalized on Christmas Eve's Eve that year, the last day the court would be open for adoptions until after the new year. My first baby, a ten-year-old boy, at long last was MINE. My name was on a birth certificate in a space other than "Name of Child." I had not endured nine months of labor, but I can assure you, I survived five years of labor pain.
"All good goes somewhere" was another of my special fortunes. I don't remember when or where I got it, only that when I read it, I was so moved, I stuck it in my wallet to join the stack. From there, it spent a great many years taped to an eye-level shelf in the darkroom of the newspaper for which I worked so I could see it every day and remember it whenever things seemed darker than the darkroom. When I changed careers, that tiny piece of paper was taped to the top of my computer screen at my new job so I could read the fortune every day and remember it whenever things seem to be going horribly wrong.
When we had to move to another floor at work last November, all personal items had to be removed before the paid movers did their job. I wasn't sure I'd get the same computer monitor back when all the moving and construction was complete, so I removed "All good goes somewhere" and the other three fortunes that had joined it over the years and carefully packed them with all the other personal stuff that had to go home with me. I think I may have put all the special fortunes together in one place once I got home, but I don't remember for sure.
Where the stack is now, I'm not sure. I haven't had much time or reason to search. My new office space doesn't have as much room, so I haven't brought back in all the personal
I guess even if I don't ever find those fortunes again, just by writing this post, I'm keeping them alive.
"All good goes somewhere" came to mind again when I received an invitation to donate blood in a drive in the building where I work. Everything has been so crazy the last few months, I haven't really had time to share some of the most memorable events of June. This upcoming blood drive reminded me of one I need to hold onto forever, just like those fortunes.
I try to donate blood as often as I can because my blood is special. I don't understand the technical aspects; I only know my blood is considered very rare and receives special handling whenever I do donate.
I typically do not donate in May or June because of the bicycle rides we do every year. I had donated in April and didn't plan to donate again until July or August. I skipped the next donation I was eligible for because of Ride the Rockies.
Bonfils Blood Center called me the off week between Ride the Rockies and the MS-150 to ask if I would donate on a specific day at a specific place. I would be at girls camp that week, so I politely declined.
A couple of days later, Bonfils called again and pleaded with me to make time to donate before going to camp because a baby needed my special blood right away. Bonfils said because of vacations, they couldn't find anyone else with the right blood; I was the only one. I didn't know that the first time they called, or I would have donated that very day!
I scheduled to donate the next morning before work and notified my bosses, all of whom insisted I was needed more at Bonfils than anywhere else in the world at that moment and to please do whatever I had to do to make it happen.
I had donated in the building where I work once the very same day I had ridden 30 miles to work, and I was not able to ride all the way home that night. The Lizard had to rescue me after about 14 miles.
I knew donating might mean I could have trouble at camp and that I might not be able to do all the miles during the MS-150 the very next weekend. But I knew my blood was highly oxygenated after Ride the Rockies the week before, so that baby might be getting just a tiny bit of extra oomph as my blood was transfused. How could I say no?
I donated. The heat at camp was more of a hindrance than donating blood. We opted for the 60-mile route on Day 2 of the MS-150 instead of the 75-mile route to beat predicted thunderstorms, but I felt fine during the ride, even though I was a pint lighter than normal.
If I could have donated all eight pints that baby needed, I would have, in a heartbeat, no remorse whatsoever. But Bonfils doesn't let donors do that. You may donate only a pint at a time, something like every six or eight weeks.
If I had donated prior to Ride the Rockies, I wouldn't have been eligible when my blood was needed.
I don't believe this happened by coincidence. No way.
I'm not eligible for the next blood drive in the building where I work because I donated in mid-June. But I'm eligible a couple of weeks after that.
And just maybe someone special will need a pint by then.
Everything happens for a reason. And all good goes somewhere.