Going through the process of earning my broadcasting diploma reinforced certain skills, very portable ones. The ability to remain calm in a control room easily carries over to my Mum's kitchen upon discovering (one day before Christmas no less) she cut back so much on holiday baking that there was nowhere near enough for us, let alone for friends and neighbours. Two years ago that would have sent me into a swear-filled rage but thanks to school lessons learned, I grabbed the recipe book, rolled up my sleeves and sprung into culinary action in a flurry of mixing, kneading , rolling and baking to remedy the situation.
Another talent is listening. Instead of totally tuning out something that bores me to tears, I put on my happy face and try to find a story within the story, something that grabs my interest.
Journalistic impartiality is something my friends say I have taken too close to heart on many occasions, a compliment in my books. It means I've mastered the art of publicly displaying a poker face while a Csardas whirls silently in my soul.
All those things came into play the morning my friend called to tell me her son had tried to kill himself, again, and in the same spot as the first attempt. It was surreal, listening but not wanting to hear. Feeling emotion without falling apart. All this great training but I'm stumped, not doing what to do or say, so I enrobe myself in the journalist's ultimate armour, detachment.
The brain steadfastly repeats 'You're not a part of this. This story isn't about you.' The heart shouts louder with every pounding beat, thumping the message 'Do something' into my veins.
I've known my friend for 25 years and have no clue what to do. I'm not a psychiatrist, a psychologist and truth be told, I'm terrible around sick people, be their ailments mental, physical or emotional.
I've known her son since before he was born and can remember all the heartache and pain she went through to have him. I was there when she was dumped, left to raise her infant child. I was there when she met her husband for the first time. I was there when they married. I've been there, in those lives, so many times, I had to be there now.
"I'll take you out Friday night." was all I could say, knowing full well it would not change things but it was the only respite I could offer.
We had a nice dinner, circumstances aside and finished the night, as we had so many others, over coffee and doughnuts.
We spent many teenaged hours hanging out in Mrs. Aroukatos' doughnut shop, whiling away muggy summer afternoons and bone-chilling winter nights, talking about daydreams and building doughnut men long before Mike Myers (I swear he stole the idea from us)immortalized it in "Wayne's World."
Back then, neither of us ever imagined that one sleepless night, over two decades later, we would be sitting in a doughnut shop having nightmares about how to rebuild a shattered young man.