About a year ago. Before the pandemic. I saw him across the crowded restaurant with his elderly parents. They didn’t look like they’d aged a bit. But he did. His face was lean, his skin was wrinkled, he was gaunt. And he still had his trademark sense of humor.
I told him I hardly recognized him.
“Yeah,” he said, “it’s this new diet I’m on, it’s called being sick, the weight just falls off.”
This is not his best joke, I’m not sure whether I should laugh.
Then he gave me the real story. It’s a long one, I don’t have room to tell it all. He became very ill with an autoimmune disease. Doctors said he was dying. His parents were braced for the worst. His mother and father became his caregivers.
His parents tell me that for two years, they did a lot of talking to the sky, asking for help.
Doctors still can’t explain how he was cured. Maybe it was the treatment. Maybe it was something else. They aren’t sure. All anyone knows is
that one day he woke up better. No traces of illness are left.
“Now all I have to do is gain weight,” he tells me.
I have another friend I wanted to tell you about. I grew up with him. We once went to Mardi Gras together when we were young men—which is another long story that I don’t have time for. Let’s just say that I almost ended up as a permanent smear on a New Orleans sidewalk.
A few years ago my friend had the worst year of his life. His marriage sort of fell apart. His wife left him and took their son with her. Next he lost his business, then his money. He became suicidal.
One night, while asleep on his brother’s sofa-sleeper he had decided that he was going to end it all on the following day.…