I just got off the phone from a very dear friend of mine. This man is like my brother, my father, and my grandfather all rolled into one. He shall remain nameless here, out of respect for his privacy.
My friend is quite an old man now. He flew many missions over Europe in World War Two. He is one of the bravest men I have ever known. I say this not only because of his war service, which was exemplary and for which he was awarded almost every honor possible. He is also brave because he has had to nurse his beloved wife through many years of her own illness, an illness that robbed her of her memory and led to her death. He is brave because he is now slowly losing his own wonderful, vivid, humorous memory at a rapid rate, and he knows he is.
We just had a long talk on the phone. We've talked literally hundreds of hours over the years. We've laughed together and cried together, my friend and I. We talked for over an hour, about many things. He told me jokes I've heard before, but it didn't matter. He forgot many of the things we've talked about a hundred times in the past, so we talked about them as if they were brand new. As we talked, I felt the crushing weight of mortality. I also felt the soaring beauty of the human spirit.
I told him I'm lighting a candle for him this evening. I also promised to call him tomorrow. We may talk of the same things again. It doesn't matter.
"He's not heavy, he's my brother."
He gives me more than I could ever give back.
Thanks, my dear old friend.