If you were dying, what would your friends do for you? What about those whom you admire, but have never met?
Nachu Bhatnagar has cancer. It is terminal. He may have only months to live. His friend, whose Reddit handle is Kivakid, wanted to find some way to please Bhatnagar beyond the norm.
It so happens that Bhatnagar adores The War That Came Early, Harry Turtledove's alternate history series.
So Kivakid decided that he'd try--with the help of Redditors--to contact Turtledove and ask if there was any way he would reveal his latest work (due to be published in July) to a dying fan.
The letter Kivakid wrote to Turtledove is simply heartrending. He wrote of Bhatnagar's chemotherapy, his "fourth-degree radiation burns down to the bone," and "regrowing the nerves in his leg after they were destroyed by cellular necrosis."
He also wrote: "It is my duty as a friend to do whatever I can to fulfill Nachu's last wishes. Is it at all possible for you to send him copies of the remaining books in the series? I understand the risks involved in sending an advance copy of your books to him and I understand the potential copyright issues and backlash from publishers."
Still unclear whether this story might persuade an author to agree to such a request, Kivakid continued: "My friend needs some good luck and kindness to balance out the awful stream he's been on, and I couldn't imagine a better person for it than his favorite author."
I am grateful to io9 for coming early to this poignant tale and the video that was shot of the moment when this extraordinary request was granted.
Not only did Turtledove send his latest book but he also agreed to contact Bhatnagar to reveal the remainder of the series to him.
It would be easy to offer simplistic homilies about appreciating what one has--as if there is no end to his troubles, Bhatnagar's father died last year in a motorcycle accident.
But here we have examples of true friendship and true humanity, both of which can often be in such short supply.
If this film doesn't move you both to human sympathy and frustration at life's injustice, then your heart is made of lead.