What I’ve Learned About Life From My Friend Marc

How my dear friend, currently on the front lines treating patients with COVID-19, infuses my life with optimism

PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / Getty Images
PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / Getty Images

Marc and I met by chance over five years ago, when he overheard my distinctly Trinidadian accent in our neighbourhood.

Our banter quickly evolved into a beautifully honest friendship that evolved around cocktails, great local food, and professional interests.

Marc has been steadfast in his support through my first year of grief. Even though much has changed for him since COVID-19, he has continued to support me as if nothing has changed.

While he walks through the fire of human suffering every day as a front-line doctor, through some alchemy of optimism, humility, and compassion, he continues to inspire my everyday life.

Robust optimism

Marc maintains a motto of ‘This too shall pass’, which has so often sustained me during bereavement. It has been inspiring to see him putting this into practice in recent weeks.

His familiarity with impermanence and fragility is perhaps what drives him to make the most of the present. Instead of being weighed down by the current circumstances, he has often been the one to initiate gift giving, joint virtual exercise classes and cooking parties with friends, even food shopping for vulnerable neighbours outside of work.

He frequently talks about what he will do when things get better, keeping his dreams, and mine, alive.

Deep humility

Particularly in the past year, I became curious about how Marc has continuously managed to remain open to possibilities in life, despite disappointment and loss. This is precisely the attitude I needed to bounce forward from tragic loss in my own life.

He has counseled me, “I never think that it won’t happen to me.” This has allowed him to prepare for the times when things do not go as hoped, and to seek opportunities in crisis.

His humility is also characterised by a deep, clear understanding of what he is brilliant at, and the situations where he needs help. As a result, he has been clear about what he has needed from me as a friend in this period. He has even provided me with warnings about what I needed to do should his spirits wane. This strong emotional awareness has provided a template for my relationships.

Endearing compassion

At a time when human touch can provide unique comfort and sympathy, Marc has deliberately isolated himself from his loved ones to minimise exposure to them.

I can imagine that loneliness must creep in sometimes. Regardless, he maintains a personal commitment to staying strong for his broader team, mindful that his struggle is not as immense as others.

He has committed to supporting local business as much as possible, conscious that they rely on him to survive, even if it may be a bit more expensive or inconvenient. He holds me accountable for doing the same.

There are few people in life who consistently raise the bar just by being. Marc has been a vessel of hope for me. He has constantly reminded me to embrace what the present moment offers, because life is short, and it is beautiful.

He recently said that time is the ultimate luxury, and that now he has time for different things. Such wonderful capacity to reframe perspective in a crisis is truly admirable.

His imperviousness to negativity, diligent service to others, and perseverance are a blessing to me and to countless others.

Thank you Marc for being.

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