There was a play written by John Guare called 6 Degrees of Separation. I remember seeing it in a theater in New York and being so impressed by its simplicity - conceptualizing the idea that we are all connected to each other - that we are only separated from every other person on this earth by a mere six people. After the play, I remember trying my own version of the theory, and it actually seemed to work.
This weekend, two very significant people have passed away, and left me to wonder if this is the final thread in their 6 degrees that will bring them together to touch our lives one last time.
The first is Tony Snow. When I met Tony for the first time, he was the host of a show on Fox News Radio. I remember he called me to discuss an article that had appeared in a medical journal regarding the "effects of prayer on medicine." We had a great discussion on air, but beyond that I felt I was to talking to man with such deep spirituality and love for family. Shortly after that, he went on to honor our country with his service as Press Secretary at the White House.
The other person is Dr. Michael DeBakey. One of the greatest American physicians, educator and researcher, his contributions in cardiovascular surgery have changed the face of medicine for future generations. As a young medical student, I used to think about an endless world of possibilities all due to the contributions of this one man.
In the late 1990s, I was in a Miami airport waiting for my boarding ticket, when a man rushed to ask a question to the ticket agent. He was abruptly interrupted and asked to wait his turn. When he turned to face me, I recognized him immediately and offered him my place in line. It was Dr. DeBakey. He thanked me, we exchanged some pleasant conversation, and then he was on his way. When it was my turn, I approached the ticket agent and she asked me who that was and why I would so willingly accomodate a stranger. I simply told her "he is man that has touched many hearts."
I don't know if Tony Snow and Dr. DeBakey knew each other personally, but I do know that there are no "6 degrees" separating them from the millions of lives they touched with their dedication, love, knowledge, and compassion. Certainly they have touched me, and for that I will always be grateful.