May 10, 2016

In Honor & Memory of Phil Buckendorf

This past week, some of our dear friends’ son passed away unexpectedly.

His name was Phil Buckendorf. I went to high school with Phil, but as it often goes in high school, we were in different grades, and therefore, we never knew each other well.

However, his parents, Ben and Paula, have become dear, dear friends of mine and Ash’s (my wife) over the past 4 years, as Ben is Speak Your Silence’s CPA.  He and Paula have donated countless hours of accounting services to SYS + are members of our private donor group, The Loudspeaker.

The Buckendorf family has a very special place in Ash’s and my heart, and when we heard the news about Phil’s passing, our hearts simply broke for our friends.

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We attended Phil’s memorial this past Sunday evening – Mother’s Day – in a beautiful setting along the banks of the Snake River outside Boise. It was the perfect scene and such a neat tribute to Phil, to celebrate the life of an individual who lived fully, loved many, and was clearly loved in return by many.

There wasn’t a person there with a dry eye.

What’s continually come to my mind over the past week is that when our friends mourn, we simply mourn alongside them. They’re hurting, and therefore, we are hurting along with them.

In Phil’s eulogy, the family asked that, in lieu of flowers, friends and family donate to SYS, a “Phil-approved organization established to help others”. When I first read this, while I was obviously humbled and grateful, I also honestly felt a slight bit of guilt at the thought of us receiving gifts while our friends were hurting so badly.

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However, during Phil’s memorial on the river bank, I listened to his parents, brothers, family, and pals one after the other talk about how much Phil cared about people and about how much he loved one-on-one conversation and relationship. It struck me that, over the past few days, we’d received a number of generous donations given “In honor and in memory of Phil Buckendorf”, and these gifts were funding our counseling program… which makes in-person, one-on-one counseling (conversation) accessible for individuals who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

The very thing that Phil loved – one-on-one conversation and relationship – is exactly what others will be receiving in his honor.   His life will continue to bring truth and life to the hearts of others. What a special tribute to him.

I wish Phil was still here. I wish my friends weren’t hurting so badly. I wish there was something I and we could do to make their pain go away. But, I believe that a beautiful part of how we’re created is that we’re designed to take on the hurts of those we love and… simply love them.

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During Phil’s celebration, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the value and worth of each precious life, and of how important it is that we love people and live each day to impact those around us, and simply live the great lives we’re meant to live. Phil clearly did.

At the end of the day, this is why SYS exists. We exist because people and hearts are worth so much.

So, I’m quite humbled that we can play a small role in an ongoing tribute to Phil’s life by carrying on his passion for loving people through one-on-one conversation. What a neat thing.

Here’s to Phil.