Yesterday I had a small role in the Each Moment Matters luncheon, a fundraiser for Presbyterian Communities and Services. PCS is the nonprofit group that includes Faith Hospice Services, the hospice group that cared for Steve in his final weeks and provided bereavement care for me, Cooper and Katie.
You may remember the video that Faith produced as part of its fundraising efforts for the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center. (You can see it here.)
I learned before the event that the video has been shown dozens and dozens of times all over North Texas. And that some of Steve's colleagues at Children's Medical Center watched the video but couldn't finish it. (I understand. I have trouble watching it, too.) The video helps deliver the message of why bereavement services are so crucial for families who have experienced a loss.
What an awesome legacy for our beloved Steve!
At the beginning of the luncheon, five us were on stage. One by one, under a spotlight, we spoke about how our lives were affected by the nonprofit.
My scripted line:
"My name is Tyra. While caring for my husband, Steve, Faith made each moment matter by providing music therapy for our two young children, which led to 13 crucial months of bereavement services."
By now you surely know my fear of public speaking. Steve Damm would scarcely know who I am, standing up in front of 800-plus fancily dressed people. I delivered the line with what may have appeared to be a dramatic pause but was in fact a pause to steady myself and not throw up in front of all those folks.
After I sat at my table (next to Betty, who also attended), a woman approached me.
"Tyra, I'm Rachel," she said.
She looked vaguely familiar, but I truly had no idea who she was.
"I was one of Steve's nurses."
Of course. (I'm not sure why I hadn't considered that I would see one of his caregivers there.)
Rachel was the best of Steve's hospice nurses. She would come in the middle of the night to address pain and catheter issues. She was compassionate and tender and matter-of-fact.
She was the nurse who evaluated Steve on Sept. 6 and then led me to the dining room to tell me that his time on earth was nearing an end. She helped me understand how his body was shutting down, helped me understand what steps needed to happen next.
After we hugged and I cried a little and I thanked her for her care, she told me a story.
About seven months after Steve died, Rachel was caring for a young woman who was dying.
The woman told Rachel that she had found great comfort in reading a blog about another family in a similar crisis.
She had been reading Steve's blog. (This is the moment I started to cry more.)
She knew all about Steve, Cooper, Katie and me.
Rachel promised this woman that if she ever saw me again, she would share what the blog meant to her.
What an awesome legacy for our beloved Steve.