Much has happened since my last post, and I want to say a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to those who have stuck around to read the blog as I have posted, and also to those new visitors who have come by to check it out. If anything I have written here has helped, has encouraged, or even has just made you smile, then believe me when I say it is WORTH it to keep the blog going. The posts may be sporadic, but they will always be from the heart, and have some meat to them.
That being said, it’s been a rough few weeks, in many ways. As some may know, and to bring those who do not up to speed, I have been completing my examinations to become a Certified First Responder in New York State. (I don’t have the final results yet – you can bet that when I do, they’ll be here!) On 26 September, I had the part of my final exam called the PSE – the Physical Skills Exam. In it, you go from station to station, demonstrating your physical skills in such areas as performing 2 rescuer CPR and AED usage, evaluation of a medical or a trauma patient, and the like. I found out that I had completed and passed all the stations and, in the words of my instructor, “…completed them WELL.” I was on cloud nine for the remainder of the day, and had been taken out to dinner by my family that evening.
However, a text message came across my phone just as we were going in. A young lady I had gone to school with and had known since that time was in hospice care, battling a virulent form of cancer and, unfortunately, losing the battle. (She would end up dying about a week later) I knew her, I knew her husband and family, and I knew this was a hard time for them, and then some. It was, literally, like a blow in the stomach and made for one emotional extreme to the other that day, but after dinner I took my family home and said, simply, “I guess I’m making a trip up north.” It was a bit surreal, given that she was younger than I was, but I went to see her. I am going to digress for a moment and say that I will never forget and will always be grateful for the immense kindness showed to me by her husband – a great, towering brute of a man who nonetheless took the time, even in his darkest hour, to show kindness to me when I came to see her. I knelt next to her bed as she drifted in and out of consciousness and let the other person in the room speak to her; then when they finally stopped, I took my opportunity. Her husband, probably knowing that even at that moment I would not violate what I saw as basic rules regarding another man’s wife, said “Jeremy – it’s ok. Hold her hand if you want.” (God bless that man for his unfailing kindness to me!) I did, and she looked at me. I said simply, “I won’t say goodbye to you; I don’t say goodbye. I will say, as my ma said to me, ‘I’ll see you later.’ I had better see you later, because I’ll be looking for you when I get Home.”
At that point my voice failed me and I saw that she had closed her eyes and appeared not to be responding. Her husband gave me leave to kiss her forehead, which I did. Knowing she had family there and not wanting to tax her needlessly, I summoned up what strength I had to steady my voice and said to her, “Thank you for you always being my friend.”
What happened next is almost beyond belief; like something out of a movie. Her eyes opened, she looked me dead in the face and said, her voice cracking, “Jeremy – thank you for always being my friend.”
I left soon thereafter and it was just as well, because I managed to hold it together until I got out in my car, and then I released my grief. To say I was astounded, floored, amazed – no words could describe what I felt but I realized later, with the help of a family member whom I love dearly, that what she had given to me was the most precious gift one person can give another – the realization that to whatever degree, you made a difference for good in someone else’s life. I never did great and mighty things for her; never saved her life, or bailed her out of some near-tragedy – but yet somewhere, somehow, God saw fit to bless me with the opportunity to have made a difference, and I never even knew it until she chose to share it with me through her final words to me.
So, you may be asking, why are you writing this? Why are you sharing something so personal? I’m glad you asked, actually. (Aren’t YOU glad you asked?) I’m sharing it for one simple reason; to encourage us to not be afraid to show we care. It may be as simple as a smile, or asking someone who appears to be in distress if they are all right, and (as it was in my case) it may be things you do that you aren’t even aware of; but DO them. It takes courage to do it, and make no mistake. Yes, you’ll face people who will rebuff you. You’ll face people who will misunderstand. You’ll face people who will think that they are just OH so clever and will needle you, pick at you, make snide remarks toward you and, unfortunately in some cases, genuinely denigrate you because you show it; but don’t let that stop you. Don’t let that change you, who you are, burn you out or make you cynical. If you’re the only one who does it, then so be it. People will notice. They’ll remember – and in turn, you’ll encourage them to show that they care – and so it spreads.
I was blessed to have been shown that I made a difference – and believe me – it wasn’t anything I did. I was blessed to have been used by God and been given whatever it was that I had to, in turn, give to my friend – there’s no back patting going on here. You may never be made aware of your impact in that way – but believe me when I tell you – you’re making a difference, for good or for ill, every single day. Make it a good one – because someone out there is waiting – waiting for someone just like YOU.
I leave you with the folllowing image, and say God bless you today, my friends!