It has taken me a few years to see the joy and happiness of Easter once again. Spring is the season of re-birth, and Easter is an important symbol of spring. I was recently received a story in e-mail. It was from a friend I haven’t seen in about five years. He and I e-mail each other, but I haven’t had a chance to see him since my wedding. The story is about a soldier who was finally coming home from the war—very fitting for our times, given the current war in Iraq. Here is the story:
A soldier was coming home from the war. He arrived in San Francisco and he called his parents.
He said, “Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me.”
“Sure,” they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”
“There’s something you should know,” the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”
“No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”
“Son,” said the father, “you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.”
At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.
The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.
The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don’t like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren’t as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.
It reminds me of something Brad said at my wedding five years ago. Brad was the best man at my wedding to Gee. His toast that day described two things he saw in his life, one was about me, and the other was about Gee.
He said that he wanted to tell the people gathered there, that out of all of his friends and family, I was the first person who forgot that he had crutches. I had never thought about it that way. To me, Brad saying this was one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever been paid. He was thinking about the time when he was learning photography. I was the one who taught Brad black-and-white photography. He said that late one evening, when we were working in the darkroom, which was in the basement of my family’s home, I had asked him if he could run up and grab two Cokes for us from the kitchen. At first, he thought I was joking, but then he realized that I had meant it… that I was thirsty, and to me—him running up to the kitchen, and getting the Cokes wasn’t out the question.
His other story, was from the time right after Gee had started her first round of chemotherapy. He had called the house to see how she was doing, and when he called, Gee picked up the phone. She heard how tired he was, and said, “Brad, how are you, you sound tired?” Brad, who had been calling to see how she was, replied, “Wait, that’s my line.”
His point to these two stories was that he hoped that we, throughout our marriage, would overlook the faults in the each other and care for each other, even when we things were most difficult. I’d like to think that Gee and I succeeded. Finding people who accept you for who you are, without any conditions, is probably one of the rarest gifts life can bring you. Gee and I were lucky to share a love like this—something few people find.