Thursday, December 2, 2010
A Tribute to My Friend, Berta (Roberta Lunde)
Last week on Tuesday I went to the funeral of someone I didn't know to be with a friend as she grieved the loss of her best friend and roommate. My job was to sit on the front row with my friend. Knowing my friend through work, it was an opportunity for two other of our friends to join us during this sad and difficult time in my friend's life. Just a few days before the funeral I had spent many hours with my friend talking of the good old days and cussing her best friend out for dying on her. She repeated several times that she wasn't done being her roommate's friend yet!
As I walked into the church where the funeral was being held, I asked the bishop (it was an LDS chapel) where my friend was so we could get our plans together. With somber eyes, he took a breath and said that my friend had died the night before! Unbelievable! Shock setting in, I was so mad at her. It reminded me of how my friend had expressed so much anger at her roommate for dying.
Later that day I realized I too "wasn't done being her friend yet!" The whole affair was difficult needless to say. During the service my two friends and I sat right on the first row (well, actually the second because the casket was hogging the first row) where our friend was to sit. Together the three of us represented our friend. Unitedly, we became her. As the funeral unfolded before us and as we were surrounded by complete strangers (all the family members of the roommate who had passed away), we held our positions firmly. No one knew who we were, and we plain old didn't care.
But,... as the funeral progressed, I found myself in a surreal situation. The closed casket in front of me, I said Good-Bye to the roommate for my friend. I did not know the roommate. How strange to be here without my friend who I had come to support. I knew no one but the two gals beside me. The chapel was packed. Eventually, the funeral became all about my friend for me. The talks, the singing, all of it. Somehow they all applied to my friend. It became her funeral in my mind. It was OK because I didn't really think I would get to see her again on Earth. Her family had her body now, and I was a nobody to them. I knew they would not be notifying me of anything regarding her. It made my sad. So, my tributes were paid to her here at her roommate's funeral. I knew she would understand. It just wasn't about the roommate anymore!
The truth was that I was her boss at work. I had grown to love her. I had grown to be her friend. She had called me in a time of need, and I had answered that call. In her distress, we talked and talked. Her pain was great: emotionally, spiritually and physically. No one can judge this girl. No one lived her life. No one knew her the way God did. Her heart was huge. Her mouth was foul. Her soul was confused. And, God knew her and loved her anyway.
In the end, she took her own life. In the end, she was still my friend. In the end, I still loved her!
We talked of angels during those last hours, she cursed them all. God with his tender heart and a sense of humor of his own perhaps has wrapped his arms around my friend during her pain and afterward as she passed into his domain. In the end, God still loved her! She is his child.
She has so much to learn. May the Lord be gentle with her as she is gentle under that crusty old shell of hers. May she now have the chance to blossom and grow into a beautiful angel that God can use for some other frightened Earthbound friend who suffers late into the night. Her heart is of gold. May the weight of her heart balance out the weight of her suffering. May her knowledge be used to help others. And, please God tell her we aren't really mad at her; we just miss her.
I wasn't done being her friend yet. May that be a theme that I carry with me all of my life. I am a better person for having known her. Thank you for sharing my life with me Berta!
Pay attention in class, you still have a work to do. I'll check in with you when I get there. Who knows, maybe you'll get to show me around. Good things Friends are Forever. Good-Bye My Friend.