Thursday, November 21, 2013

My dear friend, I will miss you

Betty had been sick for a very long time. I was prepared for her death, and had spent time with her talking about it and sharing our faith together. I never knew how hard it was going to be. Today at the funeral the church where it was held had a special time for those who were there to share stories about her and her life. At first I had no intention of getting up and saying anything, but as I began to see that not many where moving to do so.. I began to arm myself with stories. I'm not shy about speaking even if introverted, so I began to pull stories out of my arsenal of time we had spent with her.

My mind began to remember the pinochle games till late in the evening, where we would sit together laughing and telling stories. Betty would have a beer or two and Julie and I some wine or what have you, and we'd just share our lives. Or we'd sit on the back porch as the sun went down and she would tell us stories of her family and friends, of her boys and their antics growing up. Or the time that I went out of town for two weeks after my back surgery unable to mow my yard, and someone called the police on us to report tall weeds in the back. They police came and Betty not only took time to tell the police the situation, but then she and my other neighbors proceeded to take care of my yard so there would be no fine. Or the many times she gave us food to make sure my kids had plenty to eat, or just to make sure that we knew we were loved. It was her way. Or when we stood together in the driveway as she told me she was ready to die, that the pain was getting to be too much and she just didn't know how much longer she could go... as we held on to each other and just cried.

Yes I went to that podium armed with stories to regale the finest of kings, and greatly overestimating my ability to speak to a crowd. I looked up and looked into the eyes of my friends. The eyes of her children and their children, their spouses and families, their friends and relatives. A lump formed in my throat that could not be moved. Tears formed in my eyes and threatened an ocean of misery. I do not know how I got out the few words I did, but I can only say that the Holy Spirit in that moment spoke for me, though I had not the words to say, with groaning that cannot be uttered.. this time the groaning was my own and in my heart.. words that could not be expressed.. feelings that were deeper than I had ever imagined.

In that moment I realized that all the stories I could fathom could not encompass the beauty of who Betty Ann Walker was. So I simply stated that Betty was more than my neighbor, she was my friend. She was like a mother to us, always caring for us and watching over us and our children. We can never thank her enough or repay her for that.

Yes, I will miss my friend. Till we meet again in Heaven, dear one, pray for me.