August 19, 2012
There are some debts that can never be repaid. And there are debts that can never be repaid and need never be repaid.
My friend and brother, Bob Nann, is dying of cancer. I say “friend and brother” because Bob, with whom I went to high school and graduated with, saw the firefight, the battle in which my brother, Charlie, died on June 3, 1967 in Vietnam. Bob reached out to me when he and his wife and some others were building Memorial Park in Metuchen, New Jersey, to honor those Metuchen residents who had died in WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. By reaching out to me, Bob changed me, he changed how I grieved for my brother, Charlie, he helped me to heal. As I said when I spoke at Memorial Park in 1998, I lost a brother in Vietnam and I would always miss him. But I had also found Bob Nann and I had found a brother in Bob.
I owe Bob but I can never repay this debt. But then I don’t have to repay that debt. Bob gave of himself, he gave of himself to me, not to get anything in return but simply because he could do so and wanted to do so. Why did he do it? He did it out of love and it is as simple and complex as that. We humans love; we love to be loved and we love to love. When we reach out to others and “touch” them, we do so out of love. Not only can this debt not be repaid; it need not be repaid.
Bob Nann is dying. But, as with all of us, his love lives on. It lives on in his relatives; it lives on in his friends; it lives on in me. That love will die only when we, his relatives and his friends and I, die.