He was quiet as we rode the elevator up to the third floor. The air was heavy with emotion, as anger and fear seemed to compete for air space alongside sadness and acceptance. We stood back for a moment as the doors opened, aware that the vessel which just lifted us up would also bring us down the moment we stepped out. His eyes filled with tears as he took a deep breath and exited. As we made our way down the hall to the dreary ICU waiting room to be given permission to proceed to room 328, I felt numb as I walked by his side. He valiantly tried to keep all he was feeling contained when it threatened to spill over, as though it was all he had left within his control. He leaned forward and held his head in his hands for what seemed like an eternity. I could no longer bear to look at him as I tried to keep my own emotions in check. I leaned my head back against the green vinyl chair and closed my eyes desperate to find courage in the brief darkness.
From somewhere across from me I heard, “He was my resume.”
I couldn’t, I wouldn’t open my eyes, and held my breath as he continued. “He knows me better than anyone. We’ve been through so much together. Whenever someone wouldn’t believe a story I was telling I would dial his number and ask him what we were doing on a particular date. I would hand the phone over and he would immediately re-tell the story with the same detail I had just shared. People were always stunned at just how connected we are. I can’t imagine life without him.”
I heard him stand and walk out, and I followed him to the area where we were to don gloves and masks before entering the room where his best friend was fighting for his life, for their life. He swiped at a few tears, pulled himself together before we entered and walked to the side of the bed immediately taking his hand, a daily routine for them in the last few months. I stood back for a moment, taking it all in…two grown men, holding hands and expressing their love for each other, how grateful they are for one another. Two grown men who forged a lifelong friendship so many years ago as a couple of kids, and were trying to come to terms with the enemy that threatens to separate them.
All I could think as I left the hospital that night was how caught up we all get with the number of friends we have on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter as though the escalating totals are evidence of how much we are loved. Maybe on a small scale it’s okay if it brings a bit of joy to our day, but on a grander scale it doesn’t amount to anything.
A real friend isn’t the person that shares our funny status/tweet or clicks the like button on a photo we post. A real friend is someone who was there for the funny moment. A real friend is the one by our side in the photo having real life experiences with us.
How many of those people who claim to be our friend will follow us in our darkest of times? In our final days, how many will sit by our bedside, hold our hand, ease our fears, and tell us they love us? How many of them truly know us? How many of them are our “resume?”
If you add up all your social media friends and followers and don’t come up with at least one person, one true friend, then maybe it’s time to devote some face to face time (and I don’t mean FaceTime) with the people in your life.
Don’t let your 547 Facebook friends and 832 Twitter followers add up to a negative number. The internet won’t catch you when you fall.