Memorial to a Friend
I'm back in ABQ after a physically and emotionally draining weekend. The flights from ABQ-DIA and DIA-PDX on Friday were packed full. The plane was delayed and hour in DIA which meant I got to PDX after midnight. I quickly got my rental car and checked into the hotel, but not before 1am. I was up at 7 to get my return flight confirmed. After a quick breakfast it was off to the memorial service for my dear friend, Beth. I met her partner, Cheryl, in the parking lot and we exchanged a long loving hug. The service was being held in a church although Beth was pretty much agnostic/atheist. The church, however, was one of the Christian churches that actually taught love, compassion, and tolerance, you know, like Jesus did.
The church was pretty much packed. There was no formal service, per se
, but everyone who wanted to, got up and told a tale about how Beth had touched their lives. I had my turn and helped fill in a small gap of a truly wonderful life. I even brought furry into it, in a small way, by telling the tale of an office Halloween party back in 1989 where Beth wore a tuxedo with top hat and played a magician. She said she would pull a rabbit from her hat. After a couple of failed attempts, I walked into the party in an open-faced bunny suit proclaiming there wasn't any way I was going to fit into that hat. People loved the story.
Afterwards there was a reception catered by another person who Beth had helped out years before. She now runs a successful catering business. The gourmet food was wonderful. Many people introduced themselves to me either thanking me for my moving words or saying that they had heard so much about me over the years. That was very heartening. I even was able to reconnect with a few people from my first few years of working for the government whom I had met some 25 years earlier.
There was then a small gathering at B+C's house for close friends and family. It was there that I really realized that I was not just a mere acquaintance of Beth, but truly a member of her family. I was welcomed with open arms by the remainder of her extended family as well as Cheryl's family. I think Beth's family was surprised that I actually knew some "family secrets" that Beth had confided in me years ago. The beer and wine flowed freely, and it was exactly what was needed after the death of a loved one. The weather was a metaphor for the whole day. During the service it was pouring down rain. By the time we were all sitting around sharing stories, laughing and crying, the rain had stopped. Finally just before the party broke up, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky.
I would have loved to have lingered more, but I had an early flight the next morning. I decided to return the rental car early and rely on the hotel shuttle to get me to the airport this morning. Good move. I managed to get an ok night's sleep despite having to wake up at 5am. It was a joy seeing Kitty waiting for me at the airport. We celebrated my return with a waffle and big plate of smothered hash browns at Waffle House. I needed that. A metaphor for comfort.