My heart has been cracked wide open by my experience with a family who I have been helping. My co-writer and beloved partner Jill Wallace has given me permission to pen this week’s column, which I am dedicating to TJ and EC in their grief over the loss of their radiant KC.

This is a true story that happened to me in 1980. My best friend in life was a South Boston transplant who had moved to Maine. We met when I was 19 years old, and he was 30, when he stopped me from getting into a fight with another teenaged boy. He hustled me outside the bar and started a conversation that continued for 37 years until his death.

Ken was the manager of the city yard in Lewiston. He was in charge of the operation of garbage trucks, snowplows and all the other heavy equipment. There was a winter day when his close friend Marcel was backing up a front-end loader, and Ken’s foot got caught under the huge rear wheel. He was suddenly flat on his back on the ground as the huge machine ran up over his foot and leg, crushing his entire leg and pelvis and rupturing his bladder. This led to massive blood loss and two cardiac arrests. Somehow he survived despite huge odds against him.

Our friendship entered a deeper level when we had one of those kitchen table conversations for hours in the wee hours of the morning. It was two years after the accident. I told him about two patients in the ICU telling me of their near death experiences.

“Wait a minute … let me tell you what happened to me,” he said, and recounted his near death experiences in vivid detail and full of emotion. He said he thought it had all been a crazy dream, but as he told his story, it was simply too emotionally truthful for him to discount. By dawn he was imbued with a new feeling of being here on Earth for a purpose.

That self-realization led directly to the end of the alcoholism he had fallen into; the beginning of running and physical training and eating well to restore his body; a return to school for a degree and new career; and to falling in love, becoming married, and building a home.

My travels took to me California, then Alaska, and then back to California in 1980. I had not spoken with Ken for about six months, but that didn’t matter because we always just picked up where we left off.

One day I was working in the 60-bed ICU at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach. It’s a big busy teaching hospital. I had just received a fresh open-heart surgery patient who was unconscious and on a ventilator. He was my only patient, so I stationed myself in his room, using his bedside table as my desk. There were monitors and IV poles and all the usual technology. The patient was stable. I was busily occupied with documenting all of his vital signs, heart rhythm, urine output, and ventilator pressures every five minutes.

Quite suddenly, I was seized with the urgent impulse, “I have to call Ken right now!”

This was ridiculous, but it was not to be ignored. I had a phone on the table, I was sitting right next to the patient observing everything, and I started calling Ken. I can only describe it as a feeling of intense urgency.

Ring, Ring, Ring, and no answer. I placed 25 to 30 calls in about 30 minutes. Then the feeling subsided, so I decided to call him after my shift.

Ken sounded groggy when I reached him later that afternoon. “I can’t believe you’re calling me right now, that’s amazing,” he said.

He said he had been working on an electrical outlet and shocked himself unconscious. 9-1-1 was called and he was brought to Central Maine Medical Center, where I had gone to nursing school and worked in both the ICU and ER. Ken told me that when he was in the ER, he had a very vivid dream that I had come to help him. I told him what I experienced 3,000 miles away in Long Beach. When we accounted for time zone differences, the times matched right up.

The two of us shared a transcontinental experience that is scientifically unreasonable. But it happened. I don’t try to understand why or how, except that it gave us both the sense of an authentic sense of connection in our friendship … a friendship that began with an interrupted bar fight, and continues as a strong feeling now, nine years after his death.

Sometimes serendipity happens and we meet people we are meant to meet. I think these meetings happen all the time, sometimes for brief friendships, and sometimes for a lifetime. At least, that is the story I tell myself. Everything is connected. TJ and EC are in great grief right now. I am sending them great gobs of love, hoping they find all the friendship and support they need.

Jill Wallace is the owner and director of Elm Street Assisted Living in Topsham. Steve Raymond is director of community outreach at the Lincoln Home in Newcastle, and the producer and host of the television show “Spotlight on Seniors.”