I don’t have the time, sorry.

My wife suggested one night that I call an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years.  She had heard this friend had fallen on hard times and would benefit from seeing me.  Life is busy, and while I wanted to follow this advice, I was concerned about my schedule.

This friend had been alone for many years. The demands of work and family made it nearly impossible for me to see him.  Knowing time was only an excuse, I picked up the phone to call, inviting him to dinner and a game.

His response in hearing it was me calling was, “What is wrong? Are you okay?  Why are you calling me?”  I guess this friend had learned over the years that people only called when there was bad news to be shared.

No news, nothing really to share, just thought it would be fun to get together, I responded.  Who is going?  Well, I had thought just you and me.  He thought for a few seconds, then said, “I would really enjoy that, thank you.”

When the day came we were to get together, my mind was racing, and I got a little nervous about our meeting.  It wasn’t necessarily because we would be uncomfortable together; just so much time had passed.  As I walked up to the door, it opened, and there he stood.  His hair was combed neatly, and he was wearing what I swear was an outfit from high school.  It was well-preserved and ironed perfectly.

The smile on his face was that of an angel.  He had told those he lived with, “I am going to dinner and a game with my friend.”  They were impressed and couldn’t wait to hear about our adventure on our return.

We went to dinner; it wasn’t elegant, but the atmosphere allowed great conversation.  My friend was acting as though he was with the President of the United States.  Life hadn’t been good for this friend; I had to read the menu for him as his eyesight was failing.  Being a little older than me, he suggested life had a way of turning around; he remembered how he used to read for me- this was before I could read.

As the night went on, we were so engaged in the conversation that we missed our game.  We didn’t talk about anything out of the ordinary, mostly small talk, catching up on each other’s lives.

I took him back home, and as we walked up to the door he said, “You will never know how much this evening meant to me. Next time let me pay.”  Certainly, I suggested, hoping neither of us would wait long before we got together again.

While driving home, I reflected on how fast life moves and that the two of us had shared some very tender moments together.  I felt bad we didn’t have more nights like this together.  I wondered how different his life might have been if he had more time together.

“Tell me about your evening?” was my greeting from my wife as I walked in the door.  We had a lot of fun, and it was good for us to share memories.  It was nicer than I had anticipated, and I wonder now why I was so nervous.

Not more than a few days went by when we heard that this friend had died unexpectedly.  This was a shock to all who knew this man.  No one had a chance to do anything for him.  We attended his service, and I remember thinking how grateful I was that I had spent that evening with him.

It wasn’t two weeks later that I received a letter from this friend with a certificate from a local restaurant.  It was to the restaurant where this friend and I had dined.  Attached was a note that read: I paid for our meal in advance, not sure I would be there.  I paid for two dinners.  Please take a loved one who needs you as much as I did that night.  You will never know how much our evening together meant.  Love your friend.

I would suggest I knew before reading this note that I felt how much friendships mean to each of us.  Yet, no words can explain the feeling I had, knowing how important giving our time to loved ones really means and that they deserve it.

I responded to my wife’s original request: “Do I have the time.”  The question now is, “Who needs me?”  Nothing is more important than our loved ones.  Give your time freely. They have earned it; some things can’t be put off for “another time.”

While this is only a story, please remember how much your time will mean to someone in need.  Far more people than you can ever imagine.  Take the time. I did; it was worth it!


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4 Responses to I don’t have the time, sorry.

  1. Pakhi says:

    Loved that story Jaren.Taking time is up to us!thanks.

  2. Suzanne says:

    What a beautiful and sad story!

  3. Cami says:

    Thank you Jaren for sharing this with us! I think there are times when we all get a bit caught up in our lives that we tend to let our relationships with both family (outside our immediate) and friends drift a little. We don’t do this intentionally to people around us, our lives just get so caught up in raising kids, our own families and those we associate with on a regular basis that it proves to be difficult to keep up on everything and everyone around us.. I am so glad that your wife had that prompting to have you call this friend, what you wrote really touched my heart..It was a blessing that you were able to have that night out with him and catch up.

    I have tried to live the words “who needs me?” more often after learning my own lesson. I had a good friend who was one amazing and successful artist..she had me help her on one of her projects which brought our friendship closer. We lived in the same apartments but at the time I moved out she was getting a divorce and kinda disappeared and we lost touch. She called me one day and I was headed out the door and could not talk to her, she said she would call back so I didn’t think to get her number. When I took her call I felt something was wrong but I was cutting time to get to a doctors apt so I just assumed whatever it was could be talked about later that night. She never called back, I didn’t know where she was living..her number was unlisted and I had this urgency to get in touch with her. I finally remembered there was someone in my dads neighborhood who could find out where she was and so I called them. They made a few calls and found out that my friend had passed away and her funeral was that night.. You can about imagine how I felt at not having the time to take her call, I found out she had called me to tell me she had terminal cancer and had only a few months to live.. I can only hope that she knew how much I loved and admired her and would have been there for her to the end..

    Sometimes with all that is going on in our lives it proves to be impossible to keep in touch with those who have been in our lives over the years but if you ever get a feeling or prompting to get in touch with someone out of the blue then don’t hesitate..most likely they really need you 😉

  4. Teresa says:

    Thank you for this thought provoking story. There can be a multitude of reasons why people feel they do not have the time to do something which would be seemingly not in their comfort zone or that they do not have time to devote.
    I have two women friends who are in their eighties. I try to take them places occaisionally and they really love it! One of then called me the other day and I did not call back because I knew I would need to set aside a block of time for whatever she wanted to do, not because I do not enjoy the time with them with her.
    My friends share so much insight about life, experiences and are so much fun to be with. One of the friends still works part time cooking food at the arena for the Jazz games! They are both amazing!
    Thank you Jaren for reminding me of what they may feel like each living alone, and of my selfishness to withhold my time.
    I was only going to read your post quickly, and not post anything myself as I am short of “time” and need to get ready for work but it was so inspiring that I wished to take a little time and respond. It takes a lot of time for you to write something and I am sure time is not always availabe to you – especially every day!
    Thank you!

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