A lot of times during the day, we get surprised by someone doing a random act of kindness. Maybe holding a door, maybe picking up a pen you dropped or letting you in front of them in traffic. These people are nice. We should all do this. But that’s not who I’m talking about today, sadly. Maybe another time. Today, I want to talk about heroes that are there with us frequently, maybe even every day. Or that we’ve known for nearly 30 years. Or maybe have lost touch with.
Today’s Heroes are Friends.
I have to make this broad, but the category is really broad indeed. A friend can be someone you go to jail with, or who bails you out of jail. a friend can be someone you watch hockey games with or only have seen in person twice. A friend can be someone you sit next to for 4 years and you still miss after they left,
or someone that you sat next to for 4 weeks and can still have the same conversations even after we’ve gone separate ways. A friend can be someone who you met for all of a week or someone you grew up with. A boss, co-worker, schoolmate, etc. Friends, you see, come in all kinds. I’ve already told you how Mel is my best friend. she’s my wife, so, uhm, yeah.
Having ALS is a blessing, not a curse. I’ve seen the beautiful in people that many don’t often get to glimpse because people are kind! I have been extremely blessed to have such good friends from all over, and I’d like to share some with you. Names withheld to protect the innocent.
Let’s start with prayers. So many people whom I might not have ever met have come up to me or my family, telling us that they are praying for me. Even rando’s in theme parks! Fellow travellers in illness have shared prayers with me, and parents of co-workers have friends that are praying for us from across the country and beyond. I add everyone into my own prayer list, offering my prayers back for them because it’s really the least I can do. Friends in Lourdes, friends from Ohio and Georgia and Maryland and Pennsylvania and Tenessee, going back to their homes and praying for us. Friends in France and England, who have no idea who I might be, but still kind.
Then, let’s talk about work friends. Co-workers who covertly funded a family trip to Disneyworld for my family and whom I can’t possibly thank enough!!! Co-workers that came out to the Walk to End ALS,
without me ever asking. These are people I’ve sat by day after day, including on night shifts of craziness, and we share bonds that most other friends don’t have. Working together, eating and bonding – you can’t really explain the special atmosphere that creates and the ties it forms. Every coworker I’ve worked with I can tell you stories about, in a good way. These guys also go above and beyond on the day-to-day. Including my bosses, going above and beyond to accommodate my illness so that I can still work. Co-workers whom I might not have seen or talked to in a while, but who come up out of the blue with the kindest hug, and offers of help (which are serious). I could name them, but I have a feeling not all of them would like that. But if you are reading this, you know who you are, and your kindness and friendship is making me tear up. I cannot thank you enough!
The next step, talking about family friends. These are people who we interact with as family friends and neighbours, at church or at our kid’s schools. These are people that may have been friends with our siblings or taught us in high school. When the community comes together for a meal train, these are the people reaching out and giving us of their bounty and generosity. When I’m having a down day, they show up at our doorstep with a bottle of Chartreuse (my favourite) and a platter of chicken, and it makes everything ok. When there is a Capitals game for the championship, they are the ones inviting us over to join them in their driveway for a watch party. They are the ones just deciding to make us meals which are delicious. Or praying for us at Lourdes, or Fatima. Or bringing the travelling statue to our house. Or offering to help us with our trips to Boston There are so many examples I can name and that I’m forgetting! Again, you know who you are.
Not least are friends you haven’t talked to in years. The chaplain of the Knights of Malta, who was a deacon at your parish years and years ago who still remembers you and your family (and who prays for you). More recently, a classmate of mine I’ve known since 2nd grade and who I lost contact with after graduation – came by out of the blue! Just was the nicest thing, and it re-opens that connection and friendship!
That’s something you have to say has to be inspired!
You see, these heroes – everyone one of them- we often don’t recognize the small or large acts that people do for us. But they are there, doing their thing, and every conversation, every trip to get coffee with you, every visit, every random act-that adds community, builds bonds, and creates and strengthens friendships. Every act of friendship buttresses morale and supports others in their own trials. Every bit of support allows for a positive step for the person they are supporting. Every day, I know that if I’m able to have a good day it is because of these heroes, family, friends, praying for me and supporting me.
My heroes are friends. Friends are all around and have hearts of gold.
Thank you, friends! I love you all and can’t thank you enough!