The time when . . .

. . . I found I could nourish someone and did not; OR, the time when all I could do was be nourished:

My Guardian Angel in a Suit

They say, “If you ever want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans.” But that’s not always true. For example, have you ever had a guardian angel appear in the most unlikely of places and at exactly the right time? That was how I encountered Richard Fox back in April of 2005.

He was standing in front of a grungy building on Broadway in New York City, smoking a cigarette. His suit was impeccably tailored. He was also gorgeous, with auburn hair brushed back and a dazzling smile. He appeared to be in his forties and was tall and slim (although not ridiculously tall nor idiotically slim).

At that time I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was facing serious surgery. A friend in France called me and insisted that I buy coral calcium. I was dubious; but what did I have to lose?

After looking around at the other people rushing by on the sidewalk, I could see I wasn’t going to get much help from them. So I took a deep breath, got up the courage to approach Richard, and told him that I needed to find a vitamin shop. He asked why; and from that moment, shepherding me through cancer and back into wellness became his mission. He accompanied me to St. Vincent’s Hospital (alas no longer with us) in Manhattan, and The Ashikari Breast Center way north of the city in Dobbs Ferry, and stayed till visiting hours were over and they chased him out. This, despite the fact that he lived far out on Long Island and had a lovely girlfriend there.

It ended up that my cancer was so early stage that the various radiologists I consulted couldn’t agree as to where it was and where a surgeon should cut. By September, I had had three operations and two biopsies (ouch!): two of the surgeries (perhaps appropriately) on Friday-the-Thirteenths. Richard was there for all of them.

He charmed the nurses into giving me extras and looking out for me overnight, when things could go wrong. He spoke to the doctors and made sure they were paying attention to my needs, as well. Even his girlfriend once came to visit me and support me in my fight against pain and fear. She was so sweet and unaffected!

When an anesthesiologist ignored my plea not to overdose me on morphine after surgery — and he did, and I went into a coma — Richard showed up at precisely the right moment. Of course he was dressed in a beautifully tailored suit, and went running down the hall, pointing to my room and shouting, “There’s a dead person in that room and I’m her lawyer!” Needless to say, I was resuscitated in minutes.

Not that he couldn’t exhibit an acid tongue, especially when the subject of Republicans came up. He swore he would move to Rome if Bush were re-elected; but apparently his lack of Italian — and his New York accent — has held him back. Even though I agreed with him, I carefully avoided the subject of politics, as once he got riled up it wasn’t a pretty sight. (I’m guilty of similar failings, I’m afraid, but not necessarily in the political arena). His sense of humor can also be a bit unsubtle; and on holidays he always sends flowery e-cards (Christmas, Easter and other holidays, perhaps some of these in defiance of his Jewish upbringing. But here I’m speculating). Not major faults, as far as I can see.

Apart from the fact that he had grown up in New York and worked in sales most of his career, I really don’t know much about him. Lord knows, he could sell motorboats to outback-bound Aborigines; but we have only lived in the moment and talked of things happening in the here and now.

After my third surgery, when all seemed to be going well, he pretty much disappeared from my life.

“We’re joined at the hip forever, Nance,” he explained.

We still communicate by e-mail, but I’ve only seen him once since September, 2005. That was last winter and Candace was no longer in his life. Both Richard and I were, presumably, older and wiser. His hair is grayer and thinner and I’m a bit pudgier, with a couple more wrinkles. But we are still here: which may be conclusive proof that only the good die young.

We had a drink at Restivo, our favorite neighborhood restaurant. By the time we left, everyone knew our story. He works a block or two from my apartment and flirts with the Korean girls in the deli in my building, so they treat me very nicely, too. But I never see him.

We simply don’t need to be together for that connection to persist. He’ll always be my guardian angel.

*  *  *

* Pierre Chanty called me the day after I wrote this, even though I hadn’t heard from him in seven years! He pointed out that coral calcium got me a “guardian angel” — so that proves it’s good stuff!

*  *  *

Richard responded to my post:

Hi Nancy,

That is the most beautiful email I ever have ever received, please note that was a great evening for me, though quite challenging.

I’m so very pleased you are here to tell the story. It should be an HBO special. We are truly joined at the hip my dear, wonderful. I will always have a special place in my heart for you. Hey, we are both here to tell such a great story between what truly is the meaning regarding true friendship.

Love always. Richard

BTW Blind Faith, not the group.

Myotai Sensei added:

What lives between you is what organizes cells to thrive.

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