Everyone loves to rip open a letter and find money in it. This particular letter had $40 cash, which was awesome. I will get a couple of cases of craft water with that money and paint the town beige. Better than money, though, is a letter with money accompanied by a great piece of writing. This friend has recently vanquished cancer and has a pretty full plate, though thankfully that’s one less item on his menu. I got permission to reprint his letter, below.
I was going to hand this cash to you in early December but one thing in my life got in the way of another and suddenly I was off the bike for a bit. Actually, I was going to hand you $36 and tell you that it was for 2015 in advance and that you owed me 12 cents. It was going to be super funny. We were going to laugh. At least I was going to, anyway.
But then you sent up that FB post about the guy who handed you $40 and thanked you and it was so touching. Not only had he beaten me to the punch, but he had done it with class. He rounded up and let you keep the change. Following that, no way was my cheapskate humor going to be funny. Then they really started pouring in. And I gave up.
Then you announced you were quitting beer.
I thought, “Here’s my chance!” I would roll up to you, hand you the money and say, “Now that I know you’re not going to blow this on beer … ” and it was going to be super duper hilarious, particularly coming from me, and we were going to laugh. At least I was going to, anyway.
Then I found myself sitting in a large auditorium full of people watching a live Christmas show put on by a church. My wife and kids were there and we were there with another family, some good friends of ours. My wife takes the kids to church with them. I always never go.
In the middle of White Christmas, my friend leaned over and whispered, “You know, you have to show up once in a while and give thanks for what you have.”
As the fake snow continued to fall, I thought of the shanty towns and hopeless village children I had seen when I was in East Africa. They have a good day when they don’t step on a land mine. I thought of the equivalent of $120 I had given our driver, Rai, at the end of our trip to Bali and the fact that it had literally changed his life, essentially freeing him from the oppressive cab system there. It was more money than he could ever have saved in his lifetime.
When I thought about them, I realized that being thankful for what I have is the same as being thankful that I am not like them. It felt terrible.
I struggled with the weight of that thought until yesterday when I decided that it is okay to be thankful that I am able to help others.
I thought of that time when I was trying to help my daughter and the other special needs kids. Then I remembered how just a few words from you, some written and some spoken, had helped me make her life and theirs better.
And I thought of you and remembered the time in my early twenties when I quit drinking for over a year, just because I felt like it. I had lost most of my friends at the time because of it. But I learned that the ones that don’t allow you to grow are the ones you don’t need and the ones that don’t judge you are the ones you keep.
Thank you for everything.
If I can help, let me know.
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