I woke up at 3 a.m. and worked until 9 p.m. Just when I thought it was a never ending day, I received a shocking text from a friend, Han.
“Brandon, my best friend has 3 months to live. She is diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, ” The text read. “You are a coach…what should I do?” Han asked.
She went on to describe her friend – a quiet, soft-spoken, and optimistic young graduate. She had a simple dream. She wanted to come to Saigon to find a job, and to make money to make her mom’s life easier. Her mom is her only family member and they are close.
“Her father passed away when she was three. Her mom is crying so hard now. I just wired her mom even dollar in my account. I told her to bring my friend to find a better doctor,” Han is devastated. She has a big heart.
I didn’t know what to tell Han. It wasn’t something easy.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book “Option B” that the most powerful thing you can do is to acknowledge. To literally say the word “I acknowledge your pain and I am here with you, for you.” Speaking with honesty and empathy is a good start. But, never say “I feel you” because we can’t walk in their shoes unless we are dying too.
“Give her some time. Be there when she needs you. And I think you should go and sleep now, ” I said.
I offered Han monetary support instead. I know that she is dead serious about going broke to save her friend.
After we hung up, I took a deep breath. Suddenly, my long day didn’t feel that long anymore. It wasn’t a great week for me. I was bothered mentally for a while. Then, I thought to myself, “Really? Someone is battling for her life now and you are acting like a whiny kid here?”
I have lived yet another day healthily and that was all that mattered. I am thankful that my parents are healthy; that my siblings and my friends are doing fine.
Most things in life are dispensable. There are only very few things that are truly irreplaceable. Life goes on perfectly without us most of the time. The universe is designed in such a way that it does not collapse when one of us falls, which we each will eventually.
The irony is that we tend to focus on the wrong things. The petty things.
Often, we spend too much time on things that we think are larger than life but in reality, they are dispensable in the grand scheme of things. We devalue what is truly irreplaceable. We postpone our dreams. We let our today be someone else’s day. We live someone else’s dream because we think there is always tomorrow to work on ours. But, what if tomorrow is numbered?
That night, I prayed for Han’s friend.