Friday, November 21, 2014

Dear Frank...

Dear Frank,

It has been the better part of 10 years since our paths crossed. It was a chilly, if not freezing night. I forget exactly if it was in November or December. But, I do remember that we were entering the seasons of the winter holidays, closing on Thanksgiving... perhaps even Christmas.

We met outside of a local pharmacy in the community where I grew up. You were sitting down on the curb, with all your earthly belongings. You weren't warm enough. And, you looked completely thrashed. Going to school to become a doctor in healthcare, I knew your body has been punished by years of whatever it was that landed you on this path. You were probably in pain. You were certainly suffering. And, you were most desperately alone. There was no faking the anguish... the hopelessness in your life.

Honestly, you probably didn't even notice me walking by you - twice actually... just to make sure you weren't deranged. I did this for my own safety, just to be cautious. But, I did this because I wanted to do what I did next.

See, a few doors down from this pharmacy was a pizza shop. I bought you a fresh hot, pepperoni pizza. I was going to get cheese in case you didn't eat meat. But, I figured to gamble. Besides, it looked like you could definitely use the calories.

I approached you slowly, gently -- I didn't want to startle you. It looked like you've been through quite a lot in your life.

I said, "Excuse me, sir."

You didn't know I was talking to you at first. Then you acknowledged me.

I continued, "Hey... what's your name, friend?"

You said, "Uhmm.. it's Frank."

(Now, I remember! It was definitely soon after Thanksgiving... because of what I said next.)

"Frank, here." I handed you the pizza and said, "Have a Merry Christmas, Frank. Take care."

"Uhm.. Thanks!" you replied, in the most appreciative, unassuming manner.

You put some of your effects down and you just sat there, enjoying the warmth of the pizza box.

I got into my car. I had to drive away -- had an engagement I was already late to. But, I couldn't bear seeing you end your night without knowing there was still hope, still love, still generosity, and a spirit of giving in this world.

I drove by, looking on you from a distance. Just to make sure you'd be okay. You slowly opened the box, gazing on what must have looked like a feast. You didn't even know how to begin. You must have been starving, but, your body had learned to live with that sensation.

You picked up a humble slice and took a slow, savoring bite.

Unfortunately, that is where our connection ended. I had to keep my eyes on the road and move on to my next destination.

But, Frank -- I want you to know, that every time it gets cold and we enter these winter months... as the holidays approach, I think of you often.

Dear Frank, I hope you are well... I hope you are well.

With Kind Regards,

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