Missed Opportunities

Bill wasn't a friend

I didn’t seek him out

But I saw him

Regularly

Intermittently

For 15 years

As he walked with his autistic son

Often ahead of him

Wordlessly encouraging him

To push toward fitness

And health

As Dad did

Who biked

And swam

And played tennis

He wasn't friendly

Or grouchy

He just didn’t initiate talk

Yet, when I spent 24 hours

Circling a high school track

Raising money to combat cancer

Bill sponsored me

One of the few on our block

To do that

Then

The other day

50 yards away

I saw Bill walking

Alone

Unhealthily

Struggling

But stoic

As usual

I looked

But did not call out

“Bill, are you OK?”

Because a week earlier

He seemed fine

Only he wasn’t

Because a few days later

I learned that Bill died

Of ALS

Which I didn’t know could kill

So suddenly

Leaving me wondering why

I didn’t call out

"Bill, are you OK?"

I wrote this poem about Bill and the people we see and kind of know – but don’t really know. "Acquaintances." And about trying harder to say and do what we know we should say and do, but then don't. We tell ourselves we'll have another chance. But, too often, we won't.