Today I’m not writing about myself strictly speaking, but about a friend and about things that happen in this life.
We have here two pollution control tests every year for every car, and our cars are due the same month. My wife remembered, and I asked her to call our mechanic to see when we could take the first car. She hadn’t been able to reach him, and I thought it was weird, but yesterday her call was answered. As usual, it was his wife, but soon she told my wife the bad news. Our mechanic had had a stroke in the first days of October and a week ago had been discharged from the hospital. He is alive, but he is in very poor shape, only able to move his left hand. Our mechanic is a family friend from very long ago. He worked on my grandfather’s cars, he worked on my dad’s cars, and he has helped the whole family. We used to be neighbors back when I pretty much lived with my grandparents. He once taught me how to adjust my brakes and I tuned up my dad’s car under his guidance. He likes to talk and I used to hang out for a while when picking up our car or leaving it. He was always smiling. He studied architecture, but went back to work on engines. I always thought he should’ve chosen engineering, but for some reason he didn’t.
Hearing the news I felt sad and I was very impressed that a relatively young man had been through such a terrible thing. That a good man that has his own business is now unable to work and provide for his family. His father live to a very old age, just like mine, and I think we both had the plan of doing the same: living healthily until somewhere beyond 90, and then die peacefully in our sleep, like his father and like my grandfather. His father, a blacksmith, had only one problem, and it was bad eyesight by a life of soldering without mask, which back in the time is how things were done. Other than that, I also know he once survived a bad illness that threw him in the hospital for a lengthy time and made a slow recovery into full health. Who would have guessed we both would see our expectations be cut in one severe and merciless blow? First I tangled up with a mischievous large intestine that a genetic condition ensured it would get cancer by my fortieth birthday, had it removed along with a tumor the surgeon found while working there, and ended up in a very frail and limited state. Then he survived a stroke and is in a much more limited and frail condition than me. I used to tell him about my trips to the hospital and about when I was doing better. I always imagined he’d be strong all his life, and now I can only imagine how he feels, so unable to do anything, requiring assistance for everything, wondering about the future and his recovery, hoping to regain as much as possible.
I called my dad today to let him know. We agreed that we’d try to help with some money. We are not rich or anything, but I’m still working and I’m sure our friend has had expenses and can use any help. We decided to give less but more frequent along a longer time, as opposed to a larger amount only once. We also discussed visiting. We think visiting isn’t the best right now, unless they tell us it’s ok, but otherwise, we don’t want to bother or cause discomfort. I will tell them I will be happy to visit when appropriate and they will tell me when it will be ok. Until then I will only see his wife to give her the money we can afford to offer. I will ask if his nephew is working. They worked together at the shop. If his nephew is doing cars, I will have him do our two cars and we both will benefit. I hope he can keep the shop and work it.
I feel sad that my friend suffered such a terrible thing, I’m certainly happy he’s alive, but I think it’s a very, very hard experience, we don’t know the extent of the damage and while we hope for the best recovery, I wonder what his condition will be, what abilities he will recover and how he will experience the rest of his life. I don’t know if he can talk, if he can smile, if he will recover movement, and how much it will be, I dream of him recovering enough to still run his shop… Time will pass, the brain has the ability to find new ways to connect and recover, there are limits, these things are unpredictable and for now we can only hope. We live hoping. I’m in surveillance for cancer, every three months hoping that the oncologist judges me clean and healthy, constantly hoping I am clean by the time I’m 42 years old, which would mean I am free from the cancer I had when I started, I live hoping I don’t need to head to the ER, in severe dehydration, like countless times this year, I hope I can improve to be more independent and that I my body is more reliable. Health is something I never doubted when I was a teenager. I never thought anything could happen to me. I lied down on the avenue with my friends, and more than once I crossed the street under the box of a trailer. I biked the pacific coast of Mexico and I wonder if I would allow my sons to do it if I had them.
Life can certainly bring terrible experiences, experiences that bring the deepest pain and sadness, a flood of despair, but we don’t want to go to customer service to file a complaint. They would ask for the good times to be returned as well, and life does bring happy times with a ton of joy. I’m not giving them back. I am very happy I have lived them and I’m happy about the good days I live. Life feels much shorter and frail now, but I do intend to make the most of my days. In the end I will be able to count them, weigh them and see that happy days exceeded the bad ones. There have been days in which I have only been able to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my weakened body, but that warmth does feel good, it’s a caress that makes me smile. Life is complicated and it isn’t easy to know how to live it.