I received a phone call this week that was unwelcome but not unexpected. My childhood friend had died. This is the letter I wrote to her children:
We live in a world that measures success but not faithfulness. Jesus measures faithfulness. When your mother/grandmother arrived in heaven Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
There is a ripping hole in my heart today. It is because a friend who knew me as a child and to whom I could talk about how things were then is no longer able to pick up the phone. My last conversation with your mom was the week before she died. She wanted to talk but the amount of oxygen she needed to create breath was not available to her. My last words to her were, “ Don’t try to talk anymore. Just listen and I will pray for you.” Her last words to me were, “Thank you.”
One of the memories that has shaped my life is from our High School days when our Luther League was planning a trip to a national convention in Florida. We each had some money but we worked together to earn the final dollars. One of the fund raising projects was mowing our church cemetery and clipping around the gravestones. As we were working, a car pulled up and your Mom got out and joined us in the task. I wondered about that. I knew she was not going because she did not have the money. Yet, she contributed to the fund raising project, even though she would not personally benefit.
As an adult, I feel shame that we did not pool our money so that your Mom could have joined us. I talked to her about that in recent years but she did not recognize that she had done anything unusual. She seemed confused when I wanted to make it up to her now.
I remember the time the custard stand opened in our little town. The frozen custard came out of a machine and made concentric circles on the cones. A little one was 5 cents. Your Mom and I each got one that was at least 18 inches high. They were 25 cents each.
We rode the bus together for High School. On the first day that we got indoor plumbing at our house she got off the bus with me and we both put on our swimming suits and climbed into our bath tub.
Years go by but foundations don’t change. I need someone to talk to that knows my early story. There were 5 in our confirmation class. There were 3 boys and 2 girls. Now I am the only girl.
I want so desperately to come to her memorial service. Not for her but for me. Yet, I have peace because she understands that I have a medical appointment with a friend that I need to keep. She would probably laugh at me for being so torn up.
She made everybody laugh. The way she knit our Norwegian heritage into our culture by creating a family of dolls that told things as they are was brilliant and creative.
I want to laugh more as a tribute to her memory.
And when you need a mother, that remembers the things your mother remembered, please reply to this email.
You have been given a rare gift. A mother for whom the things of earth have grown faintly dim in the light of His glory and grace.
With gratitude for having known her and grief for having lost her.