NYC: Listening

On the shuttle bus into New York, a mid-fifties man begins to talk: He lives in the city now, but for 16 years lived in an Ashram in South Fallsburg, NY in the Catskills.
He has one child, now 21. We chat about my son and about the city, then he tells me that his child joined the army after high school, but was only on active duty for 6 months–the young man has been battling cancer for the past three years. He’s gone through radiation, chemo and six surgeries and is now declared cancer-free–the man has just accompanied him out to LA for a visit with his grandma. “And I am so lucky,” he says, “because they let me take so much time off at work. 2-3 months a year for 3 years. I didn’t get paid, but they let me take it.”
The next day, a relative calls me with the news that a family member battling cancer is going to need more chemo, much more chemo for longer than anyone had thought. “The doctor says the outcome will be 100% successful,” my relative says. “But this is many more months of chemo than we expected.” It is clear they are all devastated by the news.
Another story: a friend on medication gets his prescription filled and the pharmacist has made an error–the doses on the drugs are all wrong. He calls the druggist and gets it fixed, but doesn’t complain to the man’s boss. A week later, he needs extra meds to take on a trip. The doctor says no, but the pharmacist makes sure
he has a few days’ more doses. “It’s payback, a thank you,” my friend says.
At dinner with a friend tonight, we talk about our families. She and her brother stopped speaking several years ago. There was tension over a parent, and resentment. It seemed like it could not be fixed. Suddenly, everything is better–rapprochement, she says. What happened? Her nephew, the brother’s son, intervened and bridged the gap between them. “He did it for his son,” she says. “He saw the pain this was causing him.”