Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Today I said goodbye to my friend, Jheryl Busby, who died on election day. I had heard that Jheryl was sick but no one had prepared me for the toll his illness had taken on his body. When I saw him earlier this year he seemed frail and looked years beyond his age. I was stunned and I remember just hugging him for a really long time. I just held on, I was deeply saddened that he was ill and that so much time had passed and I had not seen this wonderful person. So we just hugged. He invited me for a duck dinner at his home and we talked for a while. Within minutes I no longer saw the sick man, I only heard the laugh, saw the twinkle in his sincere eyes and the joy of his smile. I was reminded in that moment that Jheryl was not his body, he was never his body he was always an amazing spirit.

I met Jheryl more than 20 years ago. When I met him I knew he was extraordinary. It had nothing to do with his business success or current title, it had everything to do with his incredible spirit. During the years we worked together he both endeared me and made me furious. However, his spirit was so much bigger than “business” that I couldn’t stay furious with Jheryl, no matter how many phones calls he didn’t return, clients he ticked off, or the number of projects that didn’t get completed. Because even then Jheryl was not his body he was a precious soul, that burst out of his body through his laugh, his passion, and his genuine love for people.

Jheryl was the man that when people had just met him they would walk away feeling like they had a new best friend, a true confidant. Because, you knew he cared. If you were in a crowded room and there was a line of folks waiting to talk him, he would not take his attention off of the person he was talking to, because at that moment, that person was all that was important.

I was so struck by his spirit and his ability to convey his love of people, that whenever I would find myself in a room full of strangers, or just feeling off balance, or in a conversation where I knew I wasn’t connected; I would bring up an image of Jheryl in my mind. I would put on what I called by “Jheryl Jacket” and I would see myself channeling his spirit. Then I could easily take all of the attention off of me and focus myself fully on who I was talking to. In my “Jheryl Jacket” my goal was listen, really listen and to make every interaction I had valuable for the other person.

That’s the gift that Jheryl gave to me. I will miss you JB, but I know that there is a piece of your legacy that will forever live through me and no doubt in many many others. You left a big footprint behind on your way out!

Thank you for being my friend.

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