Today is October 4th; a truly special day for many reasons. On this day, seventeen years ago our friend, Wayne, breathed his last breath after a year-long cancer journey. It is a bittersweet day for those of us who were privileged to know him. He taught us to be thankful for everything; to laugh at the small things that trip us up; and to let the past “be”. He loved good vegan food, hiking the Grand Canyon, Bruce Springsteen, his family, and his dog, Sonny. He had an eye for beauty, was very particular about his space, and despite his outgoing disposition, preferred quiet time in nature to parties and lots of people. His twin sister will turn 60 on October 20th. They always sang the birthday song to each other on their special day. Sometimes it seems impossible that he is not here.
Wayne’s good humor, courage, and dignity as he shared his journey in life and in death is foundational to my work as an end-of-life educator and to Further Shore’s mission. His legacy continues to be an inspiration and a grace for me in so many ways. I am humbled and grateful to have a vocation that is both valuable to those served and deeply rewarding for me. I get to work alongside some of the most compassionate people I have ever met. My personal relationship to grief and death has softened as well. To paraphrase a Death Café sentiment, “I explore and discuss mortality with the view to live life more fully now.” My life has been enriched by this vocation. It is indeed full. And yet, I miss my friend.
This morning I asked myself, “what would Wayne want me to do with this feeling of missing him?” Instantly, I could almost literally hear his words: tell everyone “Thank You”. So, today I am grateful for everyone who has walked the path with me. I will begin with my husband, Robert McCarter – THANK YOU! To the clients, practitioners, students, volunteers, donors, advisors, board members, patrons, readers, and community partners – THANK YOU ONE AND ALL.