There were two men that shared a hospital room together. An elderly man, Mr. Smith, sat up in the bed near the window while his much younger roommate, Tom laid flat on his back across the room. Since these two were to spend time in such close quarters, Tom decided to introduce himself, and the two quickly bonded. They passed the time speaking frequently, and sometimes watching the television they had to share. Mr. Smith never requested a single show on TV, but was content to quietly listen to whatever his companion desired. Tom had undergone back surgery for an accident, and one day expressed he was envious that his friend had a window to peer out of.
Sensing his yearning to see outside, Mr. Smith decided to tell Tom in great detail about the things he saw. He did this several times throughout the day. Once he described a park where there was a beautiful fountain, and how children would play while their parents watched. He would describe how the sky would be filled with white, fluffy clouds that would subtly float until they met another as though embracing an old friend. He would gaze at the flowers that lined the park path, amazed at the vibrancy of the colors they possessed for their season. They seemed to realize they had a short amount of time, and valued every moment they had to impress their admirers.
Tom began to cherish the time his friend told him about what was outside the window. It broadened the tiny world that he become captive to. He could visualize the world outside in a way that he had never experienced it before, and it was life altering. Each day, he would look forward to how Mr. Smith would describe the way the dusk would absorb the sun, how the stars would send messages while they twinkled in the violet sky, or how watching the sun rise caused him to swell with hope for the future.
The day finally came when Tom could be discharged to continue his recovery from home. Eager to shake the hand of the person who had become his greatest source of encouragement, he asked the nurse to roll his wheelchair across the room. As he reached the edge of the bed, he extended his hand as a gesture of friendship. The elderly gentleman, who was eager to greet his new chum clumsily reached, and searched for the hand he knew to be awaiting his grip. It was at that moment that Tom sensed something was amiss. Before he made the connection by hand, he looked at the window only to see a block wall. It was then that he realized his new friend had been blind all along.
When their hands finally made contact, the grip was tight and lasted far longer than the usual handshake. It went beyond the masculine sign of respect. It was as if they each knew it was something to hold dear because they might not get the chance to tell each other how treasured their time together had been. A bond had been created between the two.
On the way out, Tom inquired about Mr. Smith’s health because he seemed to avoid the subject, and he also was in such good spirit that it did not seem to be serious. He seemed to be fearless.
She said that he had an inoperable brain tumor that had recently made him blind, and that he had a very limited time. Even though he had a terminal illness, he chose to put the needs of others first. He had obviously spent a lifetime making more deposits in his character account than withdrawals. Love is the light that overcomes the darkness of fear. There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
The greatest leaders among us are the most humble servants. They see things that others cannot.