Why me? Why NOT me?

“Listen carefully, Billy”, my Grandfather said. He looked me straight in the eye.
I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.”
“What does that mean Grandpa?”
“It means, Billy, that you should never complain because there is always someone who has it worse than you. Be happy with what you have.”

I was a young boy when he said that to me. I don’t remember what I was complaining about but after that exchange I learned that men, men like my Grandfather, don’t complain.

Have I complained since then? Of course, it happens. But my brain immediately flashes back to that quote. And shuts me down. It has served me well, in fact it was one of my greatest life lessons and shaped who I am today.

People often told me during the height of my Illness that my positive attitude, and crippling denial, inspired them. I wasn’t waking up with the intention of inspiring others, I was just listening to my Grandpa. I was keeping my kids from worrying about me. I didn’t want to burden anyone.

People tell me now that my jokes and overall positive attitude about my current situation helps them. How else am I supposed to be? Should I complain? It’s not my style. It’s not becoming of a man. And nobody wants to hear it.


Because someone always has it worse. I know it. I’ve seen it.
I have friends who have lost children at the toddler stage to cancer.
I’ve been to Children’s hospital in Boston and read books to children who would never leave that hospital.
There are families everywhere dealing with dead children, wounded Veterans, mental illness, MIA’s and POW’s, gun violence, terminal illness, no Health Insurance, pending bankruptcies, the list just goes on and on.
They all have it worse than I do.
Most of them wish they, or those that they lost, were only on dialysis.

I’m strapped to a dialysis machine 3 days a week. So what? I’m alive. It may kill me, and then again, I may get a donor. It could be always be worse. One thing I have learned in my 53 years of walking this green earth is that I’m not special, I’m just a cog in a great big wheel. I never say Why me?
Why not me?

I have always said that where I am is where I am suppose to be. That applied wherever I was. Why isn’t it feasible that I am right where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to do at this moment?

I was given a brutal reminder of this tonight when I got a call from my friend Steve. I met Steve when I lived in an apartment complex as my family tried to bounce back from the foreclosure. We were instant friends. We hung out often and had a lot in common, in particular crumbling marriages and the love of our children. When he got divorced and moved, we stayed in touch.

Steve became very ill after he moved. His diabetes, once under control, had destroyed his liver. He needed a transplant. When I had mine, he was the first friend to visit. He had questions of course, but he was there as a friend.

Flash forward a few years. Steve was deteriorating. It was affecting his job as a Teacher. He was missing work and couldn’t find a balance in his meds, the side effects were destroying him. Soon after, a group of Teachers that praised him to his face went on to stab him in the back. He was forced to defend his ability to enlighten young minds to a committee of people who wanted him gone. After suing the Teacher’s Union he claimed a meager, insulting settlement and he walked away with his dignity in his pocket. No accolades or thanks for his 20 years of service or retirement party.

Steve lost most of his friends. Or they lost him. He is now pending disability. He just sold his car because he can’t make payments. His ex-wife is taking him to court over child-support he can’t pay. She knows he’s trying without income but wants to punish him. He can barely talk, an hour after he takes his meds he loses control of his voice. He is on a list for a cadaver transplant, it’s his only hope. Unlike a kidney, a Liver cannot be given by the living.

Tonight, I asked if he would drive up and spend a couple of days with me. He can’t because he has to be nearby in case there is a fatal car accident that will produce a proper tissue match. Plus, he has court tomorrow because his ex-wife is not done ripping his testicles from his scrotum.

Steve would love to be me. Right now, I love being me. I have friends and family who support me. My wife acted with dignity and compassion in our divorce. My children love me and will never be a pawn in a big game. I won’t die if I don’t get an organ donation in the next few months.

I worry about Steve right now, he has been a good and loyal friend. I am not worried about me right now at all.
As sick as he is, he was the one to call me to see how I was doing. How about that?

Were you to ever utter the words “what else can go wrong?” the universe very well may take it as a challenge.

30 thoughts on “Why me? Why NOT me?”

  1. I agree with everything you said but there is another reason why I embrace what your grandfather said and try to live my life this way:if you are constantly pissing and moaning and bitching about how life sucks and what a raw deal you got, you become toxic and nobody wants to come near you.

    What happened to Steve and work and with his ex really pisses me off. I hate that bad shit happens to good people. But I do believe that what goes around comes around, karma or whatever the hell you want to call it. So they will eventually get theirs. It’s a pity we don’t get to see it

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve said it before…as have so many. Bottle that strength of spirit and you have a money-maker. I don’t know too many people that would be able to put the spin on themselves like you have to turn yourself around and be positive. A true standard bearer you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are amazing, and I’m happy to know you. A friend of ours had his kidneys destroyed by radiation treatments for a brain tumour, but he just got a new kidney from a donor in another province last month and he’s doing incredibly well. Are you on a list?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Billy. Right now I am applauding you with tears in my eyes. You are an extraordinary man, and this post is further proof of that. Your attitude has always impressed and inspired me, and you just did it again. I will carry these words with me, as a reminder. I am so sorry to hear about your friend, Steve. I hope he receives the gift he needs. Big hug, my friend. You are extraordinary.​

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not extraordinary at all. Just committed to staying grounded in life and keeping a proper perspective. But thank you for your kind words.
      Btw I still can’t comment on your posts, is there something wrong with your comments settings?


  5. Your attitude is incredible and I share it totally,my mom had not an easy life for many reason ,now she is fine ,wealthy and with lots of people loving her but she always repeat me as a mantra that she is what she is because of her work but mostly because she has been lucky and she will be forever grateful for what she had and has in life .She thought me to appreciate fully even the littlest things and always be happy with what I have because many don’t even have that and I do and I am try to pass the message to my daughter because we are lucky,we have more then we realize and yes there is always someone worse even if the worse for me is for the ones who can’t appreciate what they have as they will never be happy.
    Have a great day Billy and keep up this attitude.Your grandpa was a great man as you are😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately the mentality we were taught is lost today. The level of self-absortion and entitlement combined with a lack of empathy for others scares me.
      Humility and what we do for others is what matters

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I, like you, was raised my whole life with the “big boys don’t cry” and “someone always has it worse” mantras. And I live that 98% of the time. But once in a while, I think it is cathartic to wallow in a little self pity. The trick is knowing when to stop, because self-pity is as addictive as cocaine. And then usually, after I’ve indulged in a little self-pity, I feel silly, because what I was feeling sorry for myself about was just nothing at all. Maybe that is part of the catharsis. I don’t know.

    I honestly don’t know how I’d react to having to face the trials you face on a daily basis. I’d like to think I’d keep a stiff upper lip and exhibit grace under pressure, but I don’t know. I think my “brave face” is just a very thin veneer. I admire you infinitely, not just for soldiering on and exhibiting great strength of character, but also for having an awesome attitude about it and keeping your chin up and for being the kind of man your kids can truly look up to with pride.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t feel a little self pity once in a while. It happens when I get really sick.
      Noone is perfect after all. But you hit it on the head about the kids. They are all I have, the only standing accomplishment. I have always tried to prepare them for life by teaching them how to act. And it can only be done by example.
      Thank you so much for the good words my friend

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank God for kids. They make us become better people by trying to give them someone to look up to.

        And, as the great Red Green used to say on every show, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.” That’s what friends are for.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. How true. It’s this kind of philosophy that got me through the hardest days of my stroke. I may only now be able to type with my left index finger, unable to talk, but I’m not complaining – at least I can type, there are so many who have it worse, it’s hard not to forget state particularly given I can’t walk. At least I have my health. My health and a finger, that’s it and I know that’s so much better than some. My heart goes to them.


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