Tuesday, October 4, 2016

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali

        One of the bad things (and there are many) about malaria is that the parasites attack the red blood cells and destroy them.  For me, in the past, this has simply meant it took a month or more to get back up to full speed.  Since red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body (these cells mostly consist of hemoglobin, an oxygen transport protein), their destruction causes all sorts of physiological havoc.  This time, with cerebral malaria, the destruction was so great that it left me with hemolytic anemia which is a bad thing to have all by itself.  We can’t do full transfusions which would make it better quickly, so I will just have to deal with being very weak, an invalid really, for a couple of months.  If I sit up for thirty minutes in the living room, I have to lie down for two hours to recuperate.       If there is an upside to this, it is that it gives me lots of time to think and reflect.  Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded of a friend’s birthday a few days ago.  This is a really good man whom I have written about previously.  He is a police officer in the Boston area, and, many years ago, he was chasing a drug dealer on foot.  The bad guy ran up onto the roof of a six-story building, and my friend chased him up there.  The drug dealer was attempting to jump to the roof of a nearby building when my friend tackled him.  The bad guy went over the edge and was hanging, six stories up, with only my friend’s hands keeping him from falling to his death.  My friend started to slide over the edge of the roof as other officers made it onto the roof.  They shouted at him to let go of the drug dealer, but my friend couldn’t.  Even as he felt himself sliding over the edge, he held onto the man’s legs even more tightly.  The other officers dragged the two of them back onto the roof and slapped handcuffs on the bad guy.  The other officers couldn’t understand why my friend wouldn’t let the scumbag (their words) go.  My friend said he couldn’t live with himself if he knowingly let another man die.  Pretty impressive, in my book.  This is a good man.  When I first met him, we were having a beans and ham dinner fundraiser at my church.  He was helping cook the beans wearing his full uniform including gun and bulletproof vest (he had just come off his shift).  I saw him in the kitchen with an apron covering his uniform front but the gun and vest were still quite visible and remember asking, “Expecting a rough crowd tonight?”  We have remained friends since that night in 1988, so that’s what, twenty-eight years.  I saw him last in 2013, and he said how wonderful it was that it was just like I had never left, and we picked up right where we were.  Good friends are like that.  I am very thankful as I lie here exhausted (no pain) that I have friends like this who still make contact via Facebook or email.  All of you whose lives have intersected with mine, even if only through the internet, all of you are part of me and live in my heart.  Each of you can touch me and lift me with just a word, a comment, or an emoji.  Funny how technology has kept us together.  Thanks for your prayers, I will get better just slowly as my red blood cells regenerate.  Hopefully, I am back up to daily blogging strength even if I can do little else.  God bless you, my friends.

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