You never know

Nikita says hello…to me, and now to you. DCA, August 2018

“…you’re not the only one who feels like you don’t belong, or that it’s better somewhere else. But there ARE things worth living for.  And the best part is you never know what’s going to happen next.” ― O.R. Melling

Recently I was flying out of DCA to attend the memorial service for Tuffy, about whom I recently wrote. I got to the airport early and strolled into the USO, hoping to grab a cup of coffee and relax for a few minutes before heading to the gate. But I ended up with much more than a snack.

I’ve been to airport USOs all over the country, so many times that I lost count of how often. But this was the first time ever that I was greeted just inside the door by a beautiful therapy dog who was there to reassure nervous or exhausted travelers. Though I was not jittery or tired, I was feeling the usual chronic sadness that goes with being a widow who lost her beloved spouse much too soon. As always, the sight of a canine companion lifted my spirits immediately.

“She’ll sit on your lap,” her handler warned me, as I sat down on the floor beside the Keeshond named Nikita. “I hope so,” I told him, and of course she did. She clearly was accustomed to being greeted warmly by delighted new friends. She was like a super-soft stuffed toy that came to life. I lost track of how long I sat there with her, chatting with USO staff and snapping photos, but I think it was around 15 or 20 minutes. I left the USO that morning in a considerably happier mood than when I arrived.

I thought of that unexpected encounter when I read the quote from Melling. So many of the things that make life worth living are small things that arrive at unexpected times, just when we most need them. That has been true of the gifts, cards and other expressions of concern that have come from so many who meet me here in cyberspace, and it was true of the comforting visit I enjoyed with Nikita.

We never know what’s going to happen next. While not everything that surprises us is good or even neutral, if we keep hope alive, there are joys to brighten our path, and new friends just around the corner, waiting to greet us. Some of them may even be humans.


  1. There is nothing in the world like fuzzy love. It does wonders for the soul.

    • So true!

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. I’m so happy to read about your unexpected encounter of the doggy kind! What a sweet little face and such a pleasant surprise. I suppose therapy comes in many forms and often when we least expect it. I’m so glad that you are encouraged by those that you have been strength to for so many years here. This was so uplifting to read! You know I love y’all. 💕♥️

    • Thank you, Sheila. That doggie did have one of the sweetest faces I have seen lately. Truly a “Happy happenstance” to run into her there that day.

  3. MaryAnn Clontz

    What a delightful experience for you with Nikita!
    Sending much love!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. Much love right back to you! Incidentally, the gifts you sent are BEAUTIFUL and we are enjoying them already! 🙂 ❤

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        That makes my heart sing a joy-filled song!

        • ❤ 😀 ❤

  4. Harry Sims

    Do you remember Julia as ourselves of that love THAT this is this is my savior years?
    I mentioned that I and many others are praying for you.

    Good News
    The world is hungry for good news that life is full of meaning in union with God. And it is our job to remember our calling as witnesses and messengers of that same good news. So go and tell and you will be amazed to discover all that God is doing, not only in your life, but in the life of the world as well.

    -Br. James Koester, SSJE —

    • Thank you Harry, I am always in need of prayers!

  5. Jack

    I turned 59 a few weeks ago, not exactly cathartic in the scheme of things. But how true the statement that you never know what’s going to happen next. I used to fret about that, now I see the wisdom in not knowing. Looking around the corner is more God’s business than mine I’ve discovered, and if you’d told me at 22 that at 59 I’d been to the places I’ve been and experience the things I’ve experienced, I’d have hooted you out of the room.

    Life rocks! And so do you…and you never know what’s around the bend, but I’d bet it’s glorious.

    • Yes Jack, I’ve thought many times how fortunate Jeff and I were, not to know or even have much of a clue of what lay ahead of us when we first married. Sometimes I think experience should have taught me resoundingly NOT to expect anything good to come, but it’s not in my nature to give up or quit hoping. So I appreciate your confidence that “glorious” experiences may yet lie ahead. Let’s hope so! Actually, I’ll be happy to settle for calm, contented and occasionally fun. 🙂

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