I heard about this book via an interview with the author on NPR. I wrote down the title then a few weeks later, I found out my mom was reading it on the suggestion of a friend. I read most of my mom's borrowed copy on a visit to Fort Kent a couple weeks ago and checked it out of the library here in Ellsworth to finish it off. It's a fast read being less then 200 pages and broken into short chapters.
The premise of the book: Experiences of Kate Braestrup, a Uniterian Universalist minister who serves as a chaplain for the Maine Warden's Service. Why does the Maine Warden's Service need a chaplain? Because when you are waiting for a lost loved one to be found or when you're hearing heartbreaking news, it helps to have someone there for counsel on spiritual or psychological levels.
My family and I feel a particular connection to the Maine Warden's Service. They were the agency that found my father's body almost a year ago. They not only search for missing people in out-of-the-way and sometimes dangerous places but they also break bad news. It's a hard job. In my family's case, they even showed up to pay respects and the funeral. I don't know if it was the uniform or seeing the compassion in them but I found myself throwing my arms around them and sobbing, mostly out of gratitude.
I didn't meet Kate through our experience but she seems to be someone I can relate to. She struggles with faith and fundamental questions (Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there something after this life?) but is clearly an empathetic person who understands the human condition. Anyone can learn how to deal with tragedies a little better in reading how she deals with cases she's been on. And trust me, if we can all better deal with death, most everything else feels easy.
Kate has had her own struggles with death of a loved one. Her husband died in an accident and she became a single mother of four young children years ago. It was after this that she decided to become a minister, which was something her husband was going to do.
A biography, a self help book, a short story collection, and a spiritual tutorial, "Here If You Need Me" is a great book I'd recommend to anyone but especially to someone who has experienced the effects of an accidental death or knows someone who has and wants to better understand their feelings.
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. ~Leonardo Da Vinci