It was not a good day, in a string of not very good days. I had been battling a series of bizarre legal cases that had made headlines and were weighing me down. I wish I could say, otherwise, but I’m not entirely immune to worrying about what others think of me, even when I know the truth, so I found myself wondering if I would be held in contempt by most everyone in my home town, until I could make all the facts known. And that could take years.
I was literally burdened by these very thoughts when the doorbell to my office rang. I looked out the windows atop my front door and saw a Fedex hat. I had a delivery.
Now, I can tell you that the specter of overnight mail, in the midst of legal cases, pleases no one, and I am no exception. I imagine I looked something between burdened and burnt out when I opened the door. “Hi,” I managed.
The fellow at my door had been to my office plenty of times with plenty of packages, and we’d had just a bit of time to chat about news headlines. He had known that I had been a Fox News Contributor for a decade, and I had learned he had a keen interest in media. “Hi,” he said.
I searched his hands to see whether it was a Fedex letter he was delivering, which I would have assumed to be nothing good. A package, on the other hand, might be nutrition bars, to which I am, for all intents and purposes, addicted. But he didn’t seem to be holding anything at all. I looked at him. “Need a hand with something from the truck?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I don’t have a delivery for you. I just wanted to check in to make sure you’re doing alright.”
Those words reached something deep inside me, at the level of the soul. Because I was on the ropes and wondering whether most folks had written me off, and this man had come to my door to check on me. We weren’t family. We weren’t even what the world would consider friends. But we had obviously established an extraordinary connection, though we had exchanged relatively few words, on relatively few occasions. And if that is not evidence of the fundamental decency of human beings, connected by the Universe, or by God, or by whatever you might like to call the immeasurable force that binds us, inexorably, one to another, then I don’t know what is.
I got choked up, but I think I did a good job of hiding it. “I’m fighting the good fight,” I said. I didn’t want to meet his kindness with just bravado, so I added, “Hey, it’s not an easy time, you know?”
“Oh, I know,” he said, looking straight at me. “That’s why I figured I would stop by and let you know that these things pass. You have a lot of people in this town who appreciate what you’ve done for them.”
“Thank you,” I said. I thought of extending my hand to shake his, but that seemed as though it would be awkward. I even thought of inviting him in for coffee, but that seemed even more awkward.
He must have intuited my discomfort. “I’ve got to get the deliveries out,” he said. “You hang in there. I’ll see you soon. You’re always getting something or other.”
“Okay,” I said. “Thanks, Man.”
He nodded, turned and walked back toward his truck.
I closed the door. The challenges I was facing were no less substantial than they had been minutes ago. But my view of the world in which I would meet those challenges was brighter than it had been. And my sense that I had the Almighty by my side for the journey was stronger, too.
Keith Ablow, MD