Years ago, I traded an injured friend of mine away for a bucket of milk, some eggs and a goat, but she just paid me back by making me cry in Starbucks (and pushing me closer to having to shave my beard).
When I was in college, this friend of mine, who was an excellent stage manager, injured her foot jumping off a stage or kicking an actor in the ass or something. This required her to crutch around for several weeks, much to our amusement.
What can I say? We were teenage boys.
One late night as we were killing time in our dorm lobby, she came crutching along to her room after rehearsal. We began musing about how her injury had affected her value, and what she was worth with it or without it. As she stood there, hanging between her extra aluminum legs, we imagined what we would barter for her in the open market, finally settling on some milk, eggs and a goat. I think we tossed the goat in at the end, against the possibility that she would recover and not die of gangrene.
What can I say? We were teenage boys.
Had there not been two steps between us, I’m fairly sure she would have come over and put her splinted foot up our asses for this, but instead she chose to bide her time. She’s been clever about her payback–lulling me into a sense of security by donating hundreds of dollars to my rides to fight cancer.
And it was with her latest donation that she finally got me back, by sending this message, which really hit home for me, because of Dad’s experience with a brain tumor, and made me weep in Starbucks as I read it.
It didn’t help that as I read it, Eva Cassidy’s cover of Kathy’s Song was playing and so as I got to the end of her note, I was hearing these lines: “I know that I am like the rain / There but for the grace of you go I.”
See what I mean:
I wanted to thank you for the ride you are doing to raise money for cancer research. It’s a great thing you are doing. I am honored to count you as among my friends. The ride you are going on and the money you are raising hit home tonight in a personal way.
When I first heard about your quest a few weeks ago, I thought what a nice thing and donated some money. I thought to myself, “It’s nice that I can afford to help a cause.”
Tonight I’m going to log in and donate more money [she donated hundreds more -PB] not because I can afford it this time but because what you are doing is incredible, important and meaningful.
Today the father of a friend of my oldest daughter had brain surgery for brain cancer. I know the family because our girls are in school together and have gone to each other’s birthday parties. We aren’t close friends. We don’t go out to dinner or hang out on weekends but we chat and say hello at school.
I got to know the wife a little more this year because my daughter joined her Girl Scout Troop. She has always been pleasant, nice and friendly. Today she showed a courage and grace I don’t know if I could have. Today, throughout the day, while her husband was having surgery she texted us updates on her husband’s condition.
She, during what has to be the most stressful time of her life, thought of others and let us know what was going on. Just a half hour ago the text came that the surgery was successful. Her husband was awake, groggy but talking and making sense. This after 10 hours of a surgeon operating on his brain.
What you are doing Franklin is incredible and important. The surgery he had tonight he couldn’t have had five years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was lucky and his tumor was stable until just a few months ago. Today he had surgery that is saving his life, because of research done in the past five years. Research funded by people like you and what you do. Research done by people like my husband and his colleagues in scientific research.
Thanks to that he will get to see his daughter turn 11 and his son turn 8. He will get to watch them grow up. He will get to experience all the joys and frustrations we all share in parenthood.
Thank you, Papa.
I’m urging anyone else that has friends–friends who are sick or not sick, friends that you talk to every day or just wave at in the carpool lane–donate again to Papa.
Then email your friend and ask them to donate. Because maybe in five years, another family will have another incredible day.
Really, the thanks goes from me to her, and to all who have donated to support my ride. I’m just going to sit on my butt across Massachusetts–you all are doing the heavy lifting, getting the money to the doctors, nurses, researchers, counselors, support staff and patients who need it.
And also this message goes out to her: however touching and generous this is, don’t think we’re even, and I won’t try to get you back for this.
What can I say? I’m still a teenage boy.
I’m working to make cancer history. Will you help me?