A friend of mine in his 80’s pulled me aside to talk this morning. He lifted his pant leg to reveal a huge, gauze-covered dressing over his entire shin.
“I was caught in the middle of a dogfight,” he said. “The doctor can’t stitch it because there’s simply no skin. I have another bandage up here,” he said, indicating his thigh.
His skin is even thinner than mine and he’s also on blood thinners. I cringed, imagining the pain of that huge, open wound.
He then confided that his lady friend of late has decided to fly solo. After a long sigh, he simply said:
“My life is over. I’m in too much pain to move. I have no companionship and there’s nothing to look forward to. Really, nothing.”
For a moment, I was flummoxed. We’re pals. We’ve worked out together, gone to many a lunch, had tons of talks about love, life, books (he loves murder mysteries) and he has nothing to look forward to? I wanted to give him the pep talk that one normally gives when a friend is feeling down but no words came simply because I know how he feels. I really do. What could I say?
Finally, the words come to me tonight, as I ready for bed. So, I dash off this email. Maybe it will help him feel a little less alone.
I know you are in a lot of pain and that life isn’t fair. It’s hard getting older and not snapping back into step the way you once used to.
But I just want you to know how happy it makes me feel inside every time you wave at me when I come to the gym.
Want you to know how much I love your ‘joke of the day,’ cuz even when it’s not funny, it still makes me laugh.
Want you to know that I admire how you’ve kept yourself active and in shape all these years. That takes real strength and persistence.
Mostly, I just want you to know that my life is just a bit richer and warmer for having you in it… so hang in there.
“This, too, shall pass.”
P. S. A real friend is like a rainbow. They appear after a storm and dazzle you with such beauty that you forget the fear of all the thunder and lightning that went before.”