“The steroids may have given me diabetes. But if I have a shot at life—even with diabetes—it’s better than the alternative.”
“And you’re grateful? Your liver has been failing, you’re on the verge of having diabetes, and you still have stage 4 cancer?” the man asked.
“Well, I’m still alive, aren’t I?”
"You really think you can find the good in anything?"
"Or course!" I said without having to think about it.
"Okay.... Our food is taking forever. What could possibly be good about that?"
"Well, I got to meet someone new and have a great conversation, didn't I? And I got to sit and rest for a minute."
The man stared at me. “I’m sorry, but this is making me a bit a speechless. It’s just that I met the most ungrateful person yesterday—and now I’m meeting the most grateful woman ever.”
I broke out laughing. "You’re just catching me on a good day.” I looked at a picture on the wall. “But I do have a lot to be grateful for. If this is my one chance to live, I better make it count.”
We stayed quiet, both of us thinking quite deeply as we waited for our to-go orders at the bustling pizzeria.
"This man I met yesterday," he finally said, "he had it all: a beautiful wife, a fancy car, tons of cash. But when I talked with him everything was the worst. His wife talks too much. His friend has a more expensive car. He doesn't work because he doesn't need to, and now he's bored out of his mind."
"Really? This guy was for real?"
"Yes! He stayed at a hotel in town, and he couldn’t believe the stairs hadn’t been vacuumed yet that day."
I tried so hard not to say anything bad because I'm trying this new thing called "keeping my d*mn mouth shut": no lashon hara (as the Jews call it).
"He asked me if I thought he should float the river with his wife. You know what I told him?"
I shook my head. I was beginning to like this stranger. I'm trying not to gossip, but nothing ventured nothing gained!
"I told him he'd hate floating the river."
"But everyone loves the river--once they get out there," I said.
"Are you kidding? Not him. He could find something wrong with Mother Theresa. He'd hate the river."
The lobby's door opened and Mike walked in. "You feeling okay, sweetheart?" He'd gone to look at stores with the kids while I sat in the pizzeria, waiting for food, catching my breath, and hearing about ungrateful strangers.
Right after that our order was up, and we paid for our food.
"Your enthusiasm for life is catching," the man said before we could leave. "I'm so glad I got to hear how grateful you are for everything. It makes me feel sort of thankful for all the good things I have too."
"I'm glad." I smiled so big, and after that Mike and I left.
"Who was that?" Mike asked.
"A stranger," I said. "Isn't it amazing how you can walk into a building not even knowing what exciting thing might happen, then you meet somebody new and have a great conversation?!" Mike just chuckled as I beamed. "Life is SUCH an adventure!"
“Yes, it is!” he said, and then that wonderful man held my hand.