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An elderly man lay in his bed at home, struggling for breath, hands pressed against death’s door, trying not to go. He was ninety and frail. Hospice care attended to his needs once a day.

Then, one morning he awoke to the smell of chocolate chip cookies wafting in from the kitchen down the hall.

He thought to himself, “My dear wife has made my favorite cookies.”

Dragging himself out of bed, he half-crawled down the hallway to the kitchen. There on the top of the stove was tray after tray of the cookies spread out to cool. Grasping the oven door handle, he pulled himself up as far as he could and made up the rest of the distance by fully extending his arm. Then, just as his hand reached the edge of the tray a dough-covered wooden spoon came down hard on the back of his outstretched fingers. Drawing them back, he cried out in pain.

Standing over him, his wife scowled, screaming, “Don’t touch those! They’re for the funeral!”

“I’ll be there for you?” You will?

Being there entails being there with what the other person needs, loving as the person needs to be loved, not loving as you want to love. Being there means being there without qualification — without a laundry list of reasons why you would be there, if —- if —- if — it weren’t for this, that, and something else.

“I’ll be there for you.”

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

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