I had an acquaintance pass away. He was in his late 40’s and a fellow patient in a hospital he and I lived in. I don’t know his history but I was on a forensic unit 484 paces from him on an adult ward which did not involve justice.
At certain points in my treatment and rehabilitation I was able to access areas which met my ears with “How many days until Christmas?” I don’t clearly remember the first time I heard Frank (a pseudonym) ask and reply with the exact number of days until Christmas.
Frank stuck out in my experiences as only a few have. On days I wasn’t sure what all the pain was about he pointed me to Christmas. Who doesn’t have at least one great Christmas memory? I never knew it but when he shouted it at me, it was piercing me with hope. I don’t know where hope gets you but thinking back to being without hope I can hear Frank’s simple words.
I didn’t watch TV or read a sports page for a few years but after meeting Frank I often knew the scores. Frank demonstrated that interest in anything can excite the soul. I didn’t really have a passion or so it seemed but it always cheered me that he was a fan.
I didn’t see many different faces while in hospital but Frank’s life carried lessons for me. Frank struggled but usually with joy in his heart. I say usually because I saw him cry at losing in the hospital BINGO once. I did not see a sore loser, I saw a man who put his whole heart into things. If disappointment brings tears it points to desire, it points to enthusiasm, it points to passion. If you can understand an Olympian weeping at loss you can understand Frank’s tears. He was giving it his all.
When I think of Frank I will remember that a voice and words can be the hand that pulls us past our disappointment, our losses, and our pain. Some days one of the few to speak to me would be Frank. Sometimes when you hear something it doesn’t take sprout until much later. I was impacted I thought by the repetition but in fact it was the distance between whenever and Christmas. There was always a measurable space between what I was enduring and what I would enjoy.
210 days until Christmas Frank, thanks for the gift.