For My Dear Friend

What might possibly be my strongest skill set as an EMT is my ability to comfort people. I’m not a paramedic, and I don’t have much at hand to make the physical pain go away. My strength is handling emotional pain. I’m good at sympathy/empathy, and I tend to have a good idea of what to say when someone really needs to hear it. Maybe, in a weird, twisted way that only another similarly afflicted individual can understand, I was somewhat blessed to suffer from (and, I’m proud to say, mostly overcome) depression. Maybe that’s what gave me the skill set I so value. Who knows.

But sometimes, I’m at a complete loss. I don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to help. And, my friend, I’m sorry that that’s what is happening now.

You’ve listened to me whine and fight my way over the mountains I had made out of molehills, and never once did you berate me for it. You have a way of combining compassion with straight-forward, practical advice. Hear me when I say that I’m very lucky to have you for a friend…hell, I remember the first time you wrote to me, my jaw dropped in utter disbelief that you would want to have anything to do with me. You’ve helped me through so much. And I’m horribly disappointed in myself that right now, I don’t know how to help you.

You are one strong person, and I hope you know that. I can’t imagine ever working through all the things that you are handling with an enduring, silent grace. I am both proud and in awe of you. You are carrying on, much in the same way you gently tell me to, despite all of these reasons that would break lesser men.

I won’t doubt you when you say you are fine. It’s not my place. But I want you to know that if you ever are not…if you ever find yourself in darkness and can’t find the light, if your back is ever overburdened, if your head and heart are too heavy to take another step forward, or if your tongue is bloody from constantly biting it and swallowing your words before they can escape your lips…

I want you to know that I will grab a flashlight for you (with extra batteries). I will try to help you carry the load on your back. I will give you a shoulder to rest or cry on. I will give you an ear to listen to what you are tired of holding back. I will be your friend, and I will do my best to repay all the kindnesses you’ve bestowed upon me.

Keep eating that elephant. And should you get a stomachache, I’ll sit down and share a meal with you.

Or at least give you Zofran.