You'd think as much as I work around death that I'd just blow it off, but I don't. Every patient, every co-breast cancer friend, every single death affects me - both by the living of that person and by their death.
And sometimes I sob, sometimes I cringe, sometimes I stuff, and yet every single time I carry a bit of that person on, almost as a memorial, because they have affected my life and live on in me.
And that's nothing new or complimentary of me, but just saying that they have had an impact on my life, and will continue to.
Today I sob, stuff, cringe, and smile at the death, and life, of my friend and mentor, Steve Lineback. His quiet but bold guidance gave me the "stuff I need" to become a chaplain. He just happened to be in his chaplain's office at the hospital when my therapist called - to see how I could become a chaplain. And he had the answers as well as the encouragement, and a week later I was in the chaplain education program.
He was there when I faced my boards - boldly challenging me on thoughts and writings and processes, and then gently giving me the "welcome to the group" handshake and hug. And two weeks later appointed this greenie to a position within chaplaincy I was not qualified for - yet he thought the best was to learn was to dive right in.
He quickly made time for me when I had questions, concerns, job-hunting dead ends, and he always made me question myself and my motives, then quickly reminded me that if God wanted me to be a chaplain, I would do that if, "I stayed the course."
He was always teaching me - even three weeks before dying he shared scriptural and personal stories that softened my heart and taught me about the strength that comes from facing death, fully.
At Steve's funeral yesterday I was once again taught and fed and challenged and comforted. Steve's reach was far and deep, and he will always be with me - in the lessons, in his sideways smile and chuckle, and in his well-known and often-given phrase, "Go slow, stay great."
Thank you Steve, for teaching me. I am working on the slow and great - always will.