Say it now. Especially if “it” is “thank you.”

Thank you

By Joleen David

Dr. Bruce Buehler died recently.

The last time I saw him, he was being honored as a “Pediatric Legend” at an event hosted by Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Omaha. He wheeled himself up to the podium to receive his award in a nonmotorized wheelchair; typical of him to reject the easy route, even in the latter stages of his final illness. I made a mental note to find him after the meeting and thank him personally for the role he played in my son’s (and my) life.

Which brings me to the first time I saw Dr. Buehler:
It was late at night, in the newborn nursery at Bergan Mercy Hospital. I was there with my second son, Jason, who was born on Feb. 6, 1992, with a host of baffling deficiencies despite “normal” results on a battery of tests.

I recognized the “TV doctor” from his regular medical segments on local television news programs. He was poring over Jason’s EEG results and didn’t see me at first, so I had time to take in the cowboy boots under his slacks. In my anxious, exhausted state, I found them somehow reassuring. Here was someone real – grounded – someone I could talk to.

He proved to be that – and more. He was a champion for my floppy little kid, and for me, through the eight years before Jason’s diagnosis of Prader-Willi Syndrome was confirmed and for years thereafter.

This brilliant, nationally recognized geneticist, the guiding force behind the University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute for decades, took time out of his daunting schedule to meet with Jason’s elementary school teachers and help them better understand the challenges presented by PWS, so they could help him overcome them.

He encouraged me to let Jason model “normal” kids and to treat him as such. He gave me a safe sounding board, wise counsel and the blessed relief of not having to explain why Jason sometimes went off the rails despite my very best efforts.

Today, Jason is flourishing, and for that Dr. Bruce Buehler deserved my heartfelt thanks. I spotted him as I was finishing a conversation with another honoree at the event and turned to head in his direction – but he was gone.

And now he is, truly, gone.

If there is someone in your life who deserves your heartfelt thanks, I offer this story to encourage you to thank them. Don’t wait.

Say it now.

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