Sudden shifts in my plans are nothing, not when those shifts are launched in response to massive dislocations in others’ lives. My wife and I had spent a very restive night at the Best Western Premier in Bryan, Texas, thanks to extremely thin walls and very loud neighbors; they were brothers who had loud voices and little need for sleep. After that unhappy night, we were on our way to visit my brother an hour or so drive away when I discovered that I had a voice message on my cell phone. It was a friend and former sister-in-law, explaining that her husband had suffered a major health trauma the night before; she asked us to call. The call had come in two or three hours earlier, but my phone is not reliable and, so, we did not know she had called until I just happened to check messages. I pulled over and returned the call; I got voice mail, so I left a message. I learned later she was with her husband, trying to keep him from pulling out IVs and the like in his medicated state. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my niece, who said she was on her way to be with her mother. I allowed that we would return home if things looked like we might be needed. I would have turned and headed right home, but the previous night’s sleeplessness had resulted in our move to a new room when we got up that morning, and all our belongings were in the new room. Plus, we were heading to see my brother for a short visit. We decided to continue the visit.
A couple of hours later, we were on our way back to Bryan. Our plan was to visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. We did. But we kept in touch, via traded messages. And we had another commitment, with other friends, in Tomball, for this morning. So we decided to stay over last night, zip over to Tomball, visit with friends, then head back to Hot Springs Village. And we did all that. Tonight, we are home; tired, beat, weary, but in far better shape than my friend. So, tomorrow I hope to visit him and offer some support and solace to his wife. I look forward to the time when this is an uncomfortable memory; when everything that caused the shift in plans is a memory with little import. That’s what I look forward to and hope for. But, life can change in an instant. Sudden changes can be wonderful or they can be catastrophic. These lessons matter.