Stocking shelves like a robot, coming from the darkness of the backroom with a cart of boxes, I hear the call. I notice a sudden panic around the Pharmacy. Look up I notice a man being helped up by a pharmacist who dropped everything to make sure he is okay. I look at the elderly man, notice him panting for oxygen and sweat on his brow.
"Devon, can you help this guy out?"(Pharmacist) "Sure" (me)
"Stay with him as long as he needs, make sure he is okay." (P)
I hold his arm, one foot in front of the other we make it out of the store with his groceries. We get to the food court, he stops and says we need to sit down. We sit on the hard seats, very uncomfortably. I don't know what to say, for once I see someone without care. His eyes were full of whatever life he had left. Mouth dry, he's still panting. I put the groceries on the table and we stare at each other for awhile. It was one of the most beautiful and saddening moments in my life.
He wets his lips, mouths a couple words. Clears his throat, looks to the side and said "I was supposed to have help today, I can usually carry my own groceries. I haven't been in a couple weeks so I had a little more to pick up."
"okay, so how are you?"
"Fine, just took a tumble, it happens more often than you think."
"What do you need?" I said
"Someone to sit with me until a cab arrives, the person who usually drives me was no longer available."
"Anything else I can do?"
*Pauses* "I just, I have 2 months to live, I'm going day to day. I have a hole in my heart, my stomach weak... I'm on Oxygen to keep me afloat"... "What happened?"
"I had a minor heart attack, valve weakened and I was given 2-4 months to live, it has been 6."
"How come you don't have anybody with you?"
"My family is working, I lost the driver because the system left me."
"I don't know what to say"
We sit for 5 more minutes. "Cab should be here soon"
"You can leave if you want"
"I'm not leaving your side until you are in the hands of another individual."
We wait, I ask him more about his life. Tells me about his family, his condition.
Cab arrives and I walk back to the store. Thinking the whole time, he knows he is near death, he wasn't mad. He wasn't all that sad. At most he was apathetic. He just willed his way to live and shared his story with me.
I've learned from that guy that any condition that afflicts you, whatever the mental state, whomever is around you. Life is worth living, as time is precious. Being on Earth is a gift.
It has been a a year and 8 months since that conversation, I have no idea where he is, what came of it. I have hopes he is alive. That 5 minute conversation that felt like a lifetime for me. Changed my perspective. Everyone should work in customer service as it affects you in different ways.
I never found out his name. He never came back, I shook his hand and felt the life be rejuvenated to me.
The lesson that he has taught me is the reason why I wanted to change my attitude and deal with my depression straight on instead of running from it.
I'm grateful for the people around me and being able to share my stories and my life; regardless of who reads it or doesn't, I want to make a difference. Every story is worth telling.