Allow me to back up. As a child, I loved baseball, especially baseball movies. I recall a scene where a baseball star visited a child in the hospital. Inspired by the visit, the child rallied to better health. I often wondered who benefited more from the visit -- the baseball star, or the child. I promised myself that if I were ever in a position to be of such a service for a child in need, I would leap at the chance, while humbled at the opportunity.
Ariel and I talked approximately 45 minutes. Ariel could respond only intermittently, so I did most of the talking. Robert earlier warned me of Ariel's continuously weakened condition, that he and I could spend little time together, and that any response from Ariel would cause a further deterioration of Ariel's condition.
After my visit, Robert said that Ariel spoke often and cheerfully of our conversation, and how special it made him feel. How special it made him feel?
I learned that, four years earlier, hospitalized while battling cancer, Ariel managed to nevertheless achieve the honor of becoming his high school class's valedictorian. Ariel never said, "Why me?" "Why am I receiving such punishment?" -- never asked why God dealt him such a bad hand. Ariel strived to make the best of his situation, kept his spirits up, and despite his obvious obstacles, continued to achieve and grow. His courage and bravery inspire me to this day.
In my living room, I have photos of myself with Walter Cronkite, with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. But at the top of my "wall of fame" sits the photo that Robert took of Ariel and me.
One more thing. Muhammad Ali once visited a child with terminal cancer. Ali said to him, "Come on. You're gonna beat this thing. You're gonna beat cancer. You can count on it." The child looked up at Ali, smiled, but said, "No, Champ. I'm going to go and meet God. And I'm gonna tell him I know you."
Thank you, Ariel. For someday, I hope to tell God that I know you.