The following account is based on a true story. The name of the person has been changed to protect their identity. Here we go…
I remember like it was yesterday. My family were rushing to the scene, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I just kept staring from behind the door, until I saw my sister emerge through the corner of my eye. I looked away instantly, but my ears stayed pressed. My program director had begun speaking to them. I knew it was only a matter of time before they knew what I had done.
I didn’t mean to do it. It just came out. I heard the words being said: “Karan was caught trying to get in front of a car.” At that instant, the little bit that I held on to shattered like a cosmic explosion. I felt truly ready to go.
But my ear continued to pick up sounds. I could hear my dad and my sister. They were mumbling about how much they had always done for me. They wouldn’t say it outright, but I knew what they were thinking. Not only was I ungrateful, but I’d also tried to take “the coward’s way out.” Words cannot describe how terrible I felt at that moment. Just like that, I didn’t just want death. I also wanted a brutally painful death. Like putting a piece of glass through my throat, as I sputtered a sea of blood, and strained out my last breaths.
Next thing I knew, I was in a room with them. My sister, my father, and my brother-in-law (but he was sort of a third fiddle). The doctor wore a pristine white coat, like the only pure life form in the room. I couldn’t even look at them. I just wanted to go out with the worst bang I could think of. Finally, the doctor spoke. He said to my father, “Mr. Franc. What would you like to say to your son?”
I could feel a shiver running through my body. It would have been rude of me to flex even the smallest muscle, after what I’d done. The doctor spoke again. This time, he said to me, “Karan, would you like to respond to that?” The emotions inside me stoked and fizzled in rapid succession. All at once, I felt both subdued and anxious. On the outside, I was almost catatonic.
Suddenly, the doctor asked my family to leave the room, and then he said to me: “Karan, do you think you were always given everything?”
“No,” I said, like a brittle snowflake. Then, I cleared my throat, and resounded in a more manly voice, “No.”
“Okay, what didn’t he give you?”
I just had to say, one last time, to anyone who could hear. “He never listened.”
“I see. What do you mean he never listened?”
“Whenever I told him that everything was falling apart for me, he’d say I was being moody and negative for no reason. I’d get mad that he couldn’t just listen to what I was saying. Then, he’d get pissed himself and leave.”
The doctor didn’t say anything. So I continued.
“He’d come back after a while, looking like a puppy and say so innocently (and sweetly) that he was doing his best. That he was trying to be patient with me. I mean he was doing a lot. He was cooking for me, trying not to yell at me I suppose, trying to help me with my college work, all that. But “patient” would be listening to what I had to say. Ignoring the only real conversation to be had and coming back again and again to look like a puppy and be sweet is NOT patience. He never… not once… even bothered to LISTEN TO A WORD I WAS SAYING. He was only doing what he wanted to do for me. Not what I needed him to do for me. He doesn’t even know what being there for someone means! It’s not being sweet to them after dismissing their concerns, it’s not friggin shooting down their concerns in the first place!”
At this point, I had broken into tears.
Next, the doctor asked me, “Why is all up to him to make you feel better? I mean he needs to feel good too, doesn’t he?”
My blood rushed through my skin, and I screamed. “Karan, I’m sorry things are tough!” How hard is that? That’s all he friggin needed to say! If I didn’t wanna respond, then he could just give me a hug and walk away. How hard is it to do this? The nerve of that man saying he was being ‘patient’ with me. He never even friggin listened, forget doing that long enough to call it ‘patience’!!!”… “He’s the one who has his shit together. I’m the one losing everything here!”
By now, I had started to get violent… “Everything!! Still, he can’t fuck his pride long enough to simply say I’m sorry, you’re having a hard time! Instead of Oh what about how bad I’m feeling even though a million other things in my life are going right for me!!!”
That’s when I heard the door open, and my dad stepped in. Apparently I was screaming so loud that he’d heard everything. The doctor sat pretty like Cleopatra, posing before all the drama he was enjoying for free. My dad knelt before me. He took my hand. I didn’t know what to think or feel. His hand reached out to wipe my tears and then, he spoke. “Karan, I’m sorry I never listened.”
It was happening.
“I thought I was being there for you. I guess I just didn’t know what it really meant to be there for someone. I never meant to shoot you down and then come back and be sweet later. I promise I will listen to you, and I promise I will truly be patient with you this time.”
When you’re being there for someone, don’t do only what you want to do for them. Listen to them. Find out what they need. Then try to give it to them. Or, at the very least, don’t make them out to be a “drama queen” for not having that need. If nothing else, just say “I’m sorry things are tough right now” and then give them a hug. It’s really not that hard. You could save someone’s life, someone’s day, someone’s week. You could muster up confidence in them when they’ve lost every single ounce of it.