Saturday night, a few doors down, my friend Tom went to bed, as did I in my own home. His beloved dog Bear, given to him when his old companion Max died after more than a dozen years at his side, was there with him. A winter storm raged off the Pacific, flooding the local airport, lashing our roofs with torrents of rain and rocking our homes with strong winds.
That night something came for Tom and I. About 1 am, I awoke with a burning elephant on my chest: a heart attack. I was able to call an ambulance, who got me to a different airport the storm hadn't flooded. From there I was Lifeflighted to St. Vincent's in the big city and a surgeon that could pierce the clot in my heart so that it could pump blood again. They popped a couple stents in there to keep the blood flowing, and I feel hale and hearty, if a bit sore and purpled here and there.
No one even asked for my insurance information. They kept me in the ICU until late Monday, and then gave me the boot from the cardiac unit yesterday. My son took me home, taking the day off work despite his professional responsibilities. While in the ambulance en route to the hospital I had texted my family, friends, and neighbors what was happening, and they handled everything the doctors could not, enabling me to live another day. My rent is paid. My power bill is paid. Even my car insurance was paid by one of the people I do work for.
Monday my neighbors mentioned to the landlady they hadn't seen Tom, who daily helps out around the park. They checked on him, and found him crumpled on the floor. He'd been unconscious for a day or so, with Bear huddled next to him. They got him on an ambulance and to a hospital.
I did not know any of this about Tom until yesterday, when I got back from the hospital to my warm, dry home.
Tom was not able to make a phone call, and until a few minutes ago no one knew where he was, nor even how to find his mother, who had just moved where there is no cell service. His beloved dog Bear was being fed by the neighbors, but they couldn't do more without permission from him or his family.
I have had some challenges this year. My heater broke, and I was toughing it out to payday until Tom came by, discovered it, and gave me a heater. That heater broke, and he gave me another. That heater broke, and I got the one keeping me warm now from another neighbor. Tom would not accept any money, not even an IOU, for the heaters, and neither would Starla. Such is the neighborhood I live in, and the quality of the people that take care of each other in it. These people are why I live today, came home, and am warm and snug now.
I have no money, but wealth beyond imagining, Tom's friendship foremost among it. He had no money either, but did not need it to keep his friend warm.
I got back from the hospital and my truck was broken, but fixed it, though the storm still rages. I know where his mother lives from giving him rides to see her, and went there just now. She asked me to take care of his dog, and told me Tom had massive bleeding on his brain, but that the doctors got the pressure off and got him breathing again. A shunt from surgery in his infancy had failed, doing harm similar to a stroke.
Tom is hurt badly, and presently we don't know if he'll be able to walk or talk again. While I need for nothing, as I will be back to work and paying my bills next week, I can't afford a bag of dog food today. I borrowed money to feed Bear, and I'll have food for him tomorrow. He's warm and dry here tonight.
I keep thinking of how blessed I have been to be able to make that phone call that kept me alive, while only Bear knew of Tom's plight. Something came for Tom and I that night, but I escaped it in an ambulance that Tom couldn't catch. My heart is broken even though the surgeon patched it together, because I don't know what I can do for a good man I call friend.
When my life was on the line, my family and community saved me from certain death. When Tom's life was on the line, no one was there for him but Bear. I have never asked for anything here, and do not ask for me now.
I can work, and pay my way, but Tom cannot and needs some help. He was born with one leg a little shorter than the other and a withered arm, a bit disabled, but helps out around the park as he can. Despite his own poverty, he has given to me - to all that know him - without charge, and I will do the same for him as soon as I can work again. He is a good man, and if you knew him like his neighbors, nothing could stop you from doing what you were able for him that he needs.
The last thing he said to me, when he gave me the second heater and refused money, was 'I just want to help others.'
I will make a gofundme for him, with an account setup for the purpose at a local bank, and local businesses are seeing to setting up collections to help. If you want to create that wealth good neighbors are to one another, I offer you this opportunity to do so. I will post the specific information tomorrow, after I figure out how to set up a gofundme.
I cannot spend from this post, or in Steem at all, for Tom, because I don't have a bank account and there's no way to spend Steem on the ground in the village. I just want to make sure Tom won't lose his home, Bear, or suffer more than he has to from this calamity.
I don't know anything else I can do for my friend, and I have to do something.
Be at peace. Keep in mind that blood is thicker than water, and more precious than gold.
Edit: I just want to drop a quick note explaining why I haven't posted the gofundme for Tom yet. Tom is well known locally, but most people will recognize him on sight, rather than by his full name. I don't have a picture of him, and just moments ago spoke with his mom about getting a good pic of him for the purpose. FYI, Tom is able to speak, which is an awesome indication he will make a good recovery. He still has a tube draining fluid off his brain, and can't get up and about yet, but I am very hopeful he will soon.