I receive Google alerts for the word coincidence. I have good reason: My new book delves deeply into the topic and is titled with a quote by Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” (I always figured if you’re going to use a quote, use one from somebody really smart.)
My interest in coincidence began with the sequence of events that led me to raise $1 million for diabetes research. My four-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes and I promised him I would work to end his daily injections. Then I was cast on Days of Our Lives, noticed that the actors sometimes traded recipes and came up with the idea to create a celebrity cookbook. Then a business card with the words “Expect a Miracle” appeared in my dressing room and twenty-four hours later I met the man who helped pay for the cookbook to be printed. Two editions of the Days of Our Lives Celebrity Cookbook raised $1 million for research. Coincidences accompanied my being given everything I needed to keep my promise to my son.
A series of extraordinary coincidences followed the success of the cookbook. Coincidence helped me find my hit song, “Friends and Lovers,” inspired a stranger in Nebraska to send me comforting letters during my secret separation and eventual divorce from actor Alan Thicke, led me to uncover and heal a long-forgotten childhood sexual abuse, and put my husband René in the seat beside me after he missed his flight, the only flight he’s ever missed.
And coincidences keep appearing. My dear sister Peggy spent the last six weeks of her three years journey with cancer at my mountain home. She and I worked with her naturopathic doctor to improve the quality of her days and we succeeded on some fronts, but the morning came when it was clear I must get her to the hospital.
We began the two-hour drive to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, holding hands for most of the trip. The radio was off and in the silence I sent out a prayer request, “Peggy’s so frail. Please give her a gentle and compassionate doctor when we get to ER.”
Upon arrival, the admitting staff quickly triaged my sister to an examining room. As a nurse took Peggy’s vitals, a handsome man in a white coat entered the room. Looking up from the chart, he said, “Hello, Peggy. My name is Dr. Mestres.” Then he turned to me and asked, “And you are…? ”
“Her sister, Gloria.”
He paused and tilted his head slightly, “What’s your last name? ”
“Loring. Gloria Loring. ”
“Gloria, ” he said with a smile, “it’s Ricardo Mestres, from Disney.”
He explained to Peggy how, years ago, he and I had raised money for diabetes research when he was an executive at Disney Studios. Then he told us how he came to a decision to do something more with his life and quit Disney to go to medical school.
I remembered Ricardo for his patience and kindness in the midst of the occasional chaos of fundraising, and those virtues were in full force in his interaction with my sister that day. I asked for a gentle doctor for Peggy and I got the perfect one – one I already knew.
Disney movies are well known for everything working out beautifully in the end. And so it was with my sister’s last days. She was surrounded by compassionate medical staff and loving friends and family. She passed peacefully, attended by a coinciding of meaningful events… and a Disney moment.