Today a friend and I were working on a project and walking down a hallway on our way from one unit to another. We saw two patients sitting in the hallway. She nudged me... look at that! Mike (not his real name) is smiling! Frankie (not his real name either) came to see him! Frankie was discharged four years ago and came back to see him.
Mike sits in the hallway most days, his head down, all day long. You can say hello, but the most you will get out of him is a mumble - if that. Today, my friend and I engaged in a conversation with him about how great it was to see Frankie.
My friend and I walked away, both of us wiping tears from our eyes.
She summed it up in two words: "that's friendship." He has been at the hospital for longer than I have. In the 15 years I have been there, I have watched his posture wilt, his hair turn grey, and his teeth fall out. But today I got to see something I have never seen before - an animated, happy Mike.
What's this got to do with anything, you might ask....
Well, Mike has doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health clinicians, music therapists, etc. who work with him. They care about him. They do their level best every day to make his life the best they can. And make no mistake, he needs all of that care. But there is nothing like him sitting with one of his own - someone who understands him and cares about him.
Just like us. We can spend all kinds of money on all kinds of professionals to help us with our problems. But nothing ever connects with us like sitting down with someone who is just like us - someone who understands us and cares about us. We find that in Alcoholics Anonymous and it works.
For me, that was the answer and I will be forever grateful.