We all lose touch with old friends, former co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances. Life happens to us and to them, and we drift apart.
Sometimes circumstances, not necessarily good ones, bring us back together. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes in a hospital room.
A former colleague — a casual friend, not a close one — is in the hospital recuperating from a fairly serious operation.
I’ve seen him just once in the past decade or so, a wave from a distance at a crowded festival. But when I heard he was in the hospital, I started to recall some of the fun we shared so long ago.
At least twice a day, I walk past the hospital where he’s recovering. It bothered me to think that I could just stroll by while he was stuck inside. How could I pretend he wasn’t in there?
I wrestled with it. Would he want to see me after all this time, in that context? Maybe he felt lousy and wasn’t up to seeing anyone, let alone a casual friend from another era. What would we talk about? Would he feel self-conscious? Would it be awkward? But maybe he was bored and lonely, and would welcome any distraction.
The hell with it. I called the nurses’ station to make sure he was awake, and they connected me. Sure, come on up, he said.
We chatted for maybe 10 minutes, talking sports, the details of his surgery and recovery timetable. Then a couple of nurses arrived to take care of business, and it was time for me to go.
We exchanged phone numbers. He said he didn’t need anything at the moment, but promised to call me if something came up. He seemed genuinely happy that I had made the effort to stop in and see how he was doing.
Here’s the best part — as I was leaving, he told me that any time I have a spare 10 minutes, please come visit again.