Ever So Friend-ly (Weekly Writing Challenge)

(I may be taking a break due to National Novel Writing Month, but I can’t shrug off the pull of The Weekly Writing Challenge.  This week, we’re supposed to talk about, “I wish I were”.  Sorry it’s not much of an anecdote, but it’s what I’m supposed to write today.)

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It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month,
Or even your year…”  –Friends theme song

I do my best to live a fairly introverted life.  Over the forty-eight hour weekend I spent about three of those interacting with fellow church-goers.  The rest I devoted to my couch and my cat.  There were Halloween parties, there were lectures; the world was wide open to me.  However I like my free time to be occupied with a quiet that my living room and my furry sidekick create.  Not surprisingly, friends still find a way to sneak their way into my heart.

Somehow I seem to have gotten a free pass in the ways of the world.  I don’t have any serious problems.  Everything that’s wrong with my life merely rates as a hiccup.  My life, in a nutshell, is ninety-five percent perfect with a high contentment rating.  I don’t have the exact existence that I pictured for myself, but it’s pretty darn nice.  The cat is alive, the jobs pay the bills, and those around me let me have my wacky moments.

It seems that everybody else has things harder than I do.  I’m on the West and the East is living with a storm barreling towards them.  I go for a morning jog and dry my socks over an electric fan while I warm up.  Only blocks away, homeless people shiver in doorways and constantly wage an unending battle to stay comfortable and fed.  Friends around me are undergoing stresses in the relationship, sometimes taking up completely opposite stances on the exact same issue.  I don’t think my friends are suicidal, but we all struggle to be happy now and then.  As I sit on my comfortable chair in a peaceful area, I don’t always see those quick and convenient roads to a better tomorrow for my pals.  They share their frustration and all that appears before them are roadblocks that stand much higher than any of my pithy speed bumps.

I wish I were able to help my friends wtih all their woes and worries.  I wish I were wise enough to give each of them the advice they needed to make the choice that was right for them.  I wish I were in control of each situation that seemed to be tormenting them.  Guess what?  I’m not.

As I come across people that I care about with their own sets of struggles, I’ve only found one trick that works with a darn.  I do my best to shut up and listen. 

Sometimes I can do more.  There are occasions where I can buy a hungry individual a meal.  I’m pretty quick to hand out hugs or rides here or there.  I’d like to think that the loved ones know that I’m praying for them and that I have their back.  But usually I just try to be the one person that won’t judge and won’t shove my solutions on them.  I wish I were the friend that others need me to be.  Hopefully, more often than not, I am.

Hospitable Bill

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Hospitable Bill

Saints of Mercy Hospital had an imposing figure that roamed quietly down the halls.  The first reaction people had towards him was one of awe.  The man, while thin in physique, stood well over six feet.  His dark brown skin and naked head reflected the florescent lights that buzzed in the ceiling fixtures.  The man’s head was large, his cheeks were sunken, and his default expression was one that tended to frighten small children.  However, the hospital was always grateful to have him around.

Bill, the tall man with a towering frame, was not an employee of the hospital.  He was a volunteer of sorts.  He had been cleared by the human resources department, but he didn’t have anyone checking in on him with any regularity.  By now, the staff knew that he helped in a way that they couldn’t coach or instruct.  Bill just had a gift.

ImageAs rumor around the hospital went, it had started about seven years ago.  There had been a fire, an earthquake, or a train crash, depending on who was telling the story.  Regardless, the staff had been overwhelmed with new patients.  Ambulances kept pulling up with their bright lights glaring through the windows while gurneys burst through the double doors as medical staff ran by spewing medical terms.  Men and women alike screamed with agony in the waiting room while doctors worked to control the seemingly endless injuries.  Panic was trying to force its way into each patient’s room.  It was as if the concerned loved ones in the waiting room could see the victims suffering through the walls and they were traumatized by the thought of it all.

As the doctors and nurses scurried from one injured individual to the next, Bill had been seen wandering around the hallways.  He had suffered a mild concussion and a white bandage with a red circle resided in the middle of his forehead; a stark contrast to his placid face.  He started sitting next to people in the hallways. 

Slowly, ever so gradually, a sense of calm started to take over the floor.  There were still dozens of people seeking medical treatment.  The broken bones did not get miraculously healed and the wounds were not sewn up out of nowhere.  But the attitude shifted.  Hope was restored with every person that Bill visited. 

Ever since then, Bill had done his best to find time to come in and just talk to people.  It was funny; from far away his boney features and great height were off-putting.  However, when he sat down next to someone on a plastic waiting room chair, or when he knelt down in front of a crying child, he became the most approachable person anyone could think of.  When a mother cried and told Bill about her teenage son who had gotten into a car accident, Bill sat there and took it all in.  A look of concern and understanding came across his face.  That same expression was comforting to the mother. 

When Bill did smile, which he tried to do with every person that he talked to, it took over the entirety of his face.  His bright teeth and his non-forced grin emerged on the bottom half of his face.  At the same time, his eyes lit up and shone with optimism.  

Bill let people take as long as they needed.  If a husband wanted to recount the forty-six years that his wife had been with him and how he wasn’t ready to lose her yet, Bill would listen as long as the man needed.  His patience and understanding were what made Bill so special.  He didn’t rush people, he didn’t try to fix things; he just tried to be there for them.  He made sure that if someone needed a shoulder to lean on, they could use his.

That is why there is a tall figure walking around Saints of Mercy Hospital.  He is there to remind folks that they walk their own path, but every once in a while, they come across someone who will help them shoulder the load.

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