Several months ago I had the pleasure of forging a new friendship with a guy named Dan. Although we had both entertained the idea of it becoming something more than friendship, we soon realized that a certain chemistry wasn't there. We had gotten to know each other quite well, and we both enjoyed each other's company by just being pals.
It would be typical for either of us to call and chat every couple of weeks. We had even, on occasion, met for dinner or an evening out at Sidetracks. Rather than the usual beer or Cape Cod, I would refrain from drinking around Dan out of courtesy. Dan did not drink. Not because he was in recovery, nor had he ever been an abuser of alcohol. Dan had a genetic liver condition, and was awaiting transplantation.
I recall that last day that he and I talked at length about the recent changes in my life. He was so happy that Joe and I had met and had decided to make a 'go of it'. I not only heard his words, but also I could hear the sincerity in his voice. He was truly happy for me. Also during that conversation, he was telling me that he was going a bit stir-crazy. Apparently, his doctors had placed him higher on the transplant list, and his normal weekend activities had to be limited to near his home, in case he recieved "the call".
Dan was an avid hunter and baseball player. His involvement with adult-league softball amazed me, as he would often be flying all over the country to play in tournaments with his team, the Memphis Hobos. I knew that his limited activities would eventually get to him, but fortunately that same day that we spoke, Daniel got that phone call. A new liver awaited his arrival at UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock.
Dan's younger brother Ed had called me to tell me the news. I had been finalizing my move that weekend, and with it being Sunday evening, I was quite exhausted. Ed proceeded to tell me that Dan's transplant had gone very well, and that Dan was feeling great. He also noted that Dan's color was the best that it had been in years. But on his fourth day in the hospital, a blood clot had apparently detached itself from somewhere in his body. Dan was dead.
It's ironic really, that throughout several years of awaiting a liver, taking numerous medications, living with the consequences of their side-effects, and the one thing that puts him down is a tiny blood clot. Damn!
I spent the following day remembering Dan. Many funny moments helped to carry me through. One memory in particular reminded me of how on occasion, Daniel could be spontaneous. He had called and asked if I wanted to fly to Vegas for the weekend. The occasion... to see Barbra in concert. I could have easily afforded the flight and the room, but considering my other financial obligations by being a divorced father of three, I felt that taking the $500 out of savings for concert tickets would have been foolish Certainly, I would have something out of the ordinary happen, and then not have enough funds to cover the expenses, if I had chosen to go. But, I deeply regret not saying yes. Especially now. He returned to his room after the concert and left me a voice mail. He was beside himself with excitement.
I'm glad he siezed the moment. I'm glad he offered the same to me.
I kept replaying that moment in my head throughout the day. After work, I made one last trip to the condominium to give it a final cleaning. All the rooms were void of any furniture, but as with any move, they were in severe need of a quick cleanup. As I made those long-armed stretches across every room with the Oreck, I could not shake the regrets of not accepting his invitation that weekend.
The carpets now clean. The kitchen and baths scrubbed. I left my keys atop the refrigerator, and bid a farewell to what was once my home. I sat in the car for a moment prior to engaging the engine, admiring the beautiful sunset straight ahead of me. Then, with the click of the seatbelt a twist of the ignition, I prepared to make my exit. Nearly simultaneously, as if the song had been programmed for play as soon as the engine was started, the voice of Barbra came beaming through the car stereo. It was my easy listening station, KLEZ.
I was stunned. Somehow spooked and intrigued and delighted... all at once.
"On a clear day... stop and look around you..."
I continued to sit without driving away for the majority of the song. Tears were streaming down my face. My throat ached as it held back the emotion trying to come up from within my being. I felt Dan right there with me.
As Barbra belted out one of her longest single notes, I placed the Lincoln into drive, and drove away.
"...On a clear day, on a clear day, you can see forever, and ever, and ever more."
Life is too short for many of us. I always hope that I will make the choice to truly LIVE each day... with the fewest number of regrets.
Thank you Dan. I was lucky to know you & have you as a friend.
Shirley Bassey sings "On A Clear Day" It's not Barbra, but it's still pretty darned good!