A friend in need is a friend indeed, the saying goes, and this weekend I learned how true this is.
Saturday morning I experienced severe chest pains and was briefly hospitalized for what seemed to be a cardiac problem but turned out, thankfully, to be something quite different and treatable at home with medication. The interesting thing was the reaction of people close to me.
Not realizing quite what the pain was, and insistent on doing what others wanted me to do that day, I drove a young relative to his noon train out of town, a friend to a manicure and picked up another friend at one of our airports.
As I drove in pain, occasionally wincing and sighing, the first spoke of downpayments to buy real estate. I attribute his response to his 20-something youth. It takes age to respond with empathy to another's needs.
Still driving in pain, the second, manicure-bound friend, who had expressed concern about the youth missing the train when I called her about my pain, lamented that she wished she knew what to do.
The third friend, at last, began to tell the usual story of her flight and stopped in mid-sentence at my first wince ... "what's the matter?" From then on she lavished concern, empathy, and helped me navigate through the medical system.
If this were a parable, the storyteller might then ask, who was the friend indeed. Most readers won't need to think much about this.