Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Limited Chances

My My Patriotic Friend and I were sharing some music and wine on a Sunday evening. Normally I would have been happy. Not this time. I was depressed. Things have been going wrong. Not in a big way, just not right, and I was expected to pick up the pieces. So I bitched about them,

"I miss doing things with her. You know, personal things that meant a lot to both of us, loaded with sex …” I commented to him.

He remained silent. I guess he figured that my statement did not warrant a response other than a nod. After a prolonged silence that even I determined to be too long under the circumstances, I added, “I just don’t want to hurt her by saying anything that would bring back the guilt. Not that she has anything to be guilty about. Just that, damn, she feels guilty about anything.”

He sipped his wine, and I did the same. The music at low volume went on, not really bolstering my well-being, rather, making me feel less capable of handling what went on.

After a long silence he began, “You’re not there yet, but will be. Wait till you must quit what you love to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“When you spend much of your life doing something that you love to do, you want to die doing it. Don’t you?”

I had to think about that. I understood his words, but the deeper meaning needed time for me to resolve into understandable quantities. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die doing anything. Yet, I know, that I will die as we all do. His words struck me at my core.

“Why are you telling me this?” His silence following my question began to really annoy me, so I went to get some more wine. Even after I returned he was still silent. I have great respect for him, so I held back from telling him that he was pissing me off.

“What you expect and what you receive will rarely coincide,” he finally continued.

“Oh really, I would never have guessed.”

“Your sarcasm aside, why are you disappointed then?”

“I hope,” I responded in barely more than a whimper.

“Hope is a nice sentiment, but is no more than that.”

I knew that already, but I needed his remark to bop me on the head to remember it.

He continued, “I wake up with memories of situations. I think of them during the day. I don’t miss an hour without wanting to be back there solving other people’s problems. I was on a constant high. I feel that my life is over because I am handicapped this way. I know it would come to an end, but not this way. I don’t expect people to understand. Maybe you do.”

“I understand. I am almost there. I just did not realize it,” I said with compassion.
My friend is still active, but he retired from law enforcement a few years ago. He knows more about right, wrong, guilt, compassion and bravery than I will ever know. He has helped more people than those who deserved it. But his time had come to reflect on it rather than continue. In that respect my current problems seem small. I still have a chance. His are limited.

No comments: