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Relationships In Time
Mar 1st, 2010 by JuannyCinco

Recently I have been reminded of the strange relationships that are created out of events, moments, and through continuous interaction.

There are those people who we meet and engage in an almost long term commitment: these are our close friends, our confidants, and those we care about.  We may lose touch and we may not communicate as often as we like but there is a form of bonded commitment: when the time comes we will always be there and we know the unwritten reciprocity of this agreement. 

This is our inner circle.

Then there are those with whom we work, with whom we face mental challenges, office politics and motivational struggles .  We share passions, we share frustrations and we have objectives that steers us towards at least one common goal.  We communicate and work together on a daily basis and we know each other’s inner circle.

This is our professional circle.

There are also those that we share our thoughts with through random, sporadic and seemingly inconsequential interaction.  Often the barriers are lower and the guard is let down . We are free to be whoever we want to be.  There’s no commitment, there’s no long term expectation, there’s just a simple relationship based on some simple mutual passion, love, or even, silliness.  It doesn’t matter.  We won’t die for these people but we support them through simple words.  Often the interaction is online.

This is our virtual circle.

Then there are those people that we see regularly offline.  They work at the supermarket: they are the butcher who thinks you’re a chef, they are the produce manager who knows you well enough to just point you to the “good stuff”.  They walk the same path as you in your subdivision: they are the man with the Keeshond that drives the MG, they are the man who walks alone each morning, they are the man who every day is running or cycling, they are the lady who delivers your mail.  You’d miss them if they disappeared, yet you don’t really know them.

These are our acquaintances.

Finally there are those who are dots on the landscape.  They are people with whom an event is shared and a memory committed.  There is no relationship there is no bonding outside the sharing of some instant in time. 

These are our moments.

There are two events that have caused me to consider these relationships; namely how each of these relationships overlap.

The first is that someone within my professional circle has recently been diagnosed and is fighting a particularly aggressive cancer. The truth of the moment; however, is that, through his illness, it has become clear to me that he is really in the inner circle. Moreover, it is clear that his inner circle, his family, by default comes attached.    The question I have though – is a commitment enough?  I have called him to talk to him regularly knowing that life for him, at this point in time, is extremely difficult.  When I called I initially felt guilty.  I call him because I care.  I want to give him a link to something else…anything else. The treatment is 24×7.  The cancer is 24×7.  I feel that every minute I can talk to him, I cheat cancer out of that time.

If I can talk for just 30 mins, I like to think the cancer is, just for that day, 23.5×7.

So why guilt?  Initially the guilt was because I wondered if I neglect relationships and take too much for granted?  Do I make enough effort to stay in touch with people that I was, or feel, very close to.  Do I do enough to tell my brothers and parents that in spite of oceans in distance and failure to talk I still feel a bond?  And then, more….have I confused my professional and inner circles?  Have I treated my inner circle of friends from the workplace as nothing more than professional?

Guilt because – does his health make my relationship to him different?

As I’ve come to terms with these questions it has become clearer to me.  His health, his pain, his situation is part of that unwritten bond.  I’m not treating him differently than I would others – his health needs me to be there.   Events have led me to reevaluate how I’ve responded in the past to similar events … no details but I’d like to think I’d react more compassionately now and be more considerate of the thoughts and feelings of those who I think I am closest too.

The second event occurred this evening as I was walking DJ this very dark and relatively cool evening.  On the return leg I saw a car, engine running, lights on, parked on the side of the road.  It was by a pond where I’ve often seen people fishing so I initially thought nothing of it.  As I walked past, however, I noticed that the man in the car appeared to be sleeping.  This I though was odd.  I recognized the car because the licence plate was a personalized and I recalled it as a car that belonged to a house fairly nearby.  I knew the vehicle, but not the man inside.  The proximity to his home struck me as frighteningly odd.

I knocked on the window.

Nothing.

I knocked on the window again.

Nothing.

I walked around the car stood in the road and knocked on the driver side window.

Nothing.

He was looking up at the sky leaning on the door.  Nothing.

I opened the door.

“Hey, are you all right?”

Nothing.

“Sir. Are you okay?”

Nothing.

Then he slowly moved his right hand and pointed at his chest and throat.

“Do you need me to get help?”

Nothing.

“Can you talk? Are you okay?”

In a tired fashion he pointed at his chest and throat again.  His skin was grey.  His eyes were rolling.

Momentary panic. What do I do?

I told him I was going to call 911. I told him I needed to find a phone because I had left mine at home.  I told him I’d be right back.

Headlights.  Approaching.  Slowly.  The ONE time I wanted someone to speed….

I stood in the road and waved.  The car slowed and appeared to want to drive around me.  I waved, more frantically.  He stopped.  A couple from out of state, visitors to my subdivision, flagged down by a stranger late at night.  The stranger gave me his phone and I called 911.  Another car stops, blocked by a three strangers caught in a singular moment.   The three became four – the fourth called the subdivision security.

Remembering that I recognize the car I ran down the street to the house at which I had seen the car parked almost daily for a number years.

I knew the car.  I did not know the man.  I couldn’t recall the house.

I knew two houses that had cars with custom plates. I guessed the house.

Wrong.

Two acquaintances opened the door.

Out of breath I asked … “Is your car the one with this custom licence plate ? Or is it across the street?”

I explained the situation.  My acquaintance and the car’s neighbour ran across the street to tell the family of the unknown man.

With the wife and two children we were now five strangers, neighbours, acquaintances together locked and linked in one moment.

We made our way back to the scene.

The ambulance arrived.

Moments passed… … … ..

Then everyone left.  Not friends, but linked.

Tonight I wondered at the marvel of the series of events.  Events that will forever link eight strangers and acquaintances:  the  couple from out of state who were  flagged down and waited with a two strangers all sharing a singular concern for the fate of one unknown man in one location.

I do not know what caused the man’s distress; however, all signs point to a severe stroke. He could neither talk not really move.  His color was grey.  I don’t know what condition he is in.  Nor do I know the state of his family.  I only hope that my fortune in recognizing his distress  and the kindness of others to stop  will have helped.  How often have I just walked past cars at night? How long would he have waited before someone else had passed by? I had seen no one else on my walk!

I do wish that I had remembered to go back to tell him just once that the ambulance was on its way.  That I would tell his family.   His body was locked.  His brain was probably aware.  He should have been told help was coming.

A lesson learned that I hope never to have apply again.

All comments are welcome while this post is up.

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