There once lived a kind man with his wife and family in the suburbs living the American dream. His days were spent working in a middle class job and the rest of the time he took pride as a youth minister.
The time he served in the military long ago instilled some lasting pride and kept an occasional touch with fellow warriors he met while serving their country together.
Then one day he became ill. The diagnosis was a fatal interruption to his happy life and doctors, medicine and hospice became a part of his daily routine. The man’s family was coping the best they could but the illness became difficult to accept and left the family worn with grief and disbelief, leaving the man requiring palliative care to remain comfortable on his last days.
In the meantime, one of his military buddies was being released from prison. The buddy was rifling through his options for his newfound freedom when he found himself getting in touch with his friend from what seemed to be another life time. It was easy for them to catch up because of the loyalty they promised each other when they both signed up for their military pact, a code of conduct that was instilled long ago.
The military buddies became more than friends, one became a caregiver and the other became his patient.
My first thought was the faithful oath every serviceman promises, ‘no man left behind’ that sacrifices themselves for their brother, a caring promise to help one another.
When I first met them, I witnessed a strong, connected friendship. The man was helpless and depended on every primal necessity and his determined caregiver friend on-call to meet his every demand. The man’s family welcomed his buddy with open arms and gave him a room, a place to call home. This opportunity was working for everyone. The family saw their loved one getting devoted and excellent care so they had the time to take care of themselves. The buddy had a purpose, a place to stay, and fulfilling a promise long ago of an universal military tradition, ‘never leaving a fallen comrade’.