“What…what are you talking about?” he began but I shook my head.
“I don’t call this friends,” I snapped. My final words seemed to finally break the last bit of confidence and strength in him. He looked at me sadly and turned around without adding another word. His footsteps echoed down the path, the crickets softly accompanying him with a gentle melody. My eyes carved deep into him, blind to how harsh I had been and deaf to what I had said.
My mind floated back into reality as I waited for his call, smoking cigarette after cigarette. I stared at the blank white ceiling thinking how ironic this world is. What are the chances that someone would get cancer after dismissing someone else’s cancer so unsympathetically? Close to zero, I thought. Bitterly I replayed the doctor’s words. Not long, his voice echoed in my mind. You’re in the stages of advanced cancer. Why should it be me? Why should I die now, not leaving one kind action to my name?
The phone began to ring, and I looked at the Caller ID. This was the call I had been waiting for.
“Hello,” I uncertainly answered.
“It’s Yehuda,” I heard on the other end. “I’m calling back. Sorry about being so rude.”
I bit my lip nervously again and then swallowed, “I should be saying sorry.” My voice echoed in the silence. All I heard was traffic on the other end. “I want to apologize for what I said… what I did.”
I could hear Yehuda breathing on the other end. There was a pause; “It doesn’t matter anymore.” I wasn’t sure of what to say. He went on, “Her leveya was a month ago.”
It didn’t seem fair. Was I too late? “Yehuda,” I asked in a low voice, “You remember that night?” There was a mutter of agreement, “I…I… look I need to say I’m sorry.” I waited a moment collecting my thoughts once more, “What I said… it was just…”
“What do you want?” Yehuda softly queried. “You can’t do anything to change it. It’s over.”
“I just want to know you forgive me… I just…” again I couldn’t finish my thought. My head was spinning in confusion. “I’m going through days which are indescribable,” I interrupted, sadly continuing. “You don’t understand what I’m going through.”
“It can’t be worse than my life,” he sarcastically muttered. “Why are you asking now? It won’t help anymore. ” He paused, his voice sounded bitter as he repeated, “Nothing is worse than my life.”
I was trying to hold back the painful truth. I wanted him to forgive me so I could die innocently. “No, no, no. Yehuda I’m dying.” I paused and let the words sink in, “I was diagnosed a week ago. I…I have cancer too.”
He took another deep breath and then awkwardly tried comforting me.
“When you needed my help, I didn’t even listen though it was so easy.” I kept going, “Yehuda, do you forgive me?”
“Ari,” he tried to say soothingly, “I forgave you. Ari… please. Just stop, I forgive you.”
“I feel like I have no friends anymore.” I confessed. What was I saying? It felt so demeaning. Something pushed me forward. “Tell me you’ll be there for me when I need you. I know I can’t do it alone. I need your help…” I was struggling for words, “I need your help… as a friend.”
There was deep emotion in his voice as he truthfully answered, “I’ll be there Ari. I’ll be there as I friend.”
“As a friend,” I murmured over and over under my breath. He closed his eyes to our mistakes and was there every time I needed him. He was there to hold my hand through it all. He held it till it was cold and lifeless. He held it as a friend.