A text came through on my phone from an old, old friend saying “U OK?” He was just concerned about me because of something I’d written on a social networking site.
We live in different parts of the country and so seeing each other is really hard, but we’d worked together for about four years and we’ve always had each others backs. Working in a male dominated environment, he was like a big brother, annoying, always playing practical jokes, but no-one else was allowed to mess with me. He’d make me laugh when people got to me, let me bunny hop his white van down the road (OK, I wasn’t supposed to be bunny hopping it…but we were laughing too hard) and has a heart the size of the England.
He still brings up the first time I went on a treadmill. When I said I wanted to start going to the gym, he and his friend offered to take me and show me the ropes. Like the old pro he is, he took me round the different gym equipment starting with the dreaded treadmill. We decided to have a race, running side by side taking the mick out of each other as we went. Slowly we got quieter as we focused, trying not to be out done by the other, concentrating harder on the running and the breathing.
Finally realising I just had nothing left to give, and instead of slowing the thing down, I just stopped running. I KNOW! My graceful exit off the end, falling delicately in a heap (cough) nearly caused him to fall off as well. As he was bent double, laughing, feet safely either side of the moving part, I knew I would never live it down, but you know what, I didn’t mind because it was really funny! There are other stories, but to be honest, most of them I can’t repeat on here. Life with the Essex white van man has always been interesting!
So instead of texting him back I gave him a quick ring. After the usual banter he dropped the bombshell. He has a growth in his brain. It’s not a tumour, but they can’t remove it and its cutting off some of his glands. If he has replacement hormones his liver will pack up and he’ll have to go onto dialysis. If he doesn’t have replacement hormones…..
To my questions and worry, he laughed, “Well, I’ve got a beautiful wife, fantastic kids, a home, a job and great friends. What more could I ask for?”
The conversation moved on and we went back to the usual teasing and laughing about the times I used to chase the shoplifters out the shop while the boys just waited for the police. Knowing he’d appreciate sharing in some more of my humiliation, I told him my running style hasn’t improved much, I was cat-called and wolf-whistled by a bunch of teenagers when I was last out running, denting my ego.
When he finally got his breath back, “Dandy, you should have stopped running the day you fell off a treadmill!”
Maybe I will, but I’m not quite ready to give up on life and laughing. He’s taught me to embrace everything that happens to you, to have a go when really you’re scared and most importantly to see the funny side. You might not have a second chance.