I wish it wasn't under these circumstances.....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...isnt' that what we always say when we see someone from long ago at a funeral? Last week I had the sad but fortunate experience to pay tribute to one of my favorite childhood friends. Loretta and I met in Sister Kathleen's first grade class at St. Vincent de Paul elementary school. Her last name started with "M" and mine followed with "N" so she had to endure me as a seat mate for 9 months. As we begin our school career, we don't have enough life savvy to choose our friends--which can be a good thing. By middle school we become more choosy and particular about with whom we spend our time. Chances are that maybe one or two of our classmates will remain our friends throughout life. (A lesson I keep trying to remind my teenager of) Loretta was one of those friends who was in my circle all the way to high school graduation.

Loretta had an older half sister who didn't live with her so she was essentially an only child. The kind of friend everyone with multiple siblings needs. I have wonderful memories of camping with her family, belting out hit songs on her stereo with the microphone, slumber parties galore and sneaking out to meet boys--it was always her idea. Smile. We came of age together. I didn't know it back then, and neither did she, but Loretta had Lupus for many years before she was diagnosed. A short time ago she learned she was also suffering from Diabetes. Both diseases took their toll on her and left her susceptible to complications which eventually took her life. As many took their turns at the microphone, the phrase I kept hearing to describe my friend was "unconditional love". She offered it to everyone who crossed her path. As I listened I felt so much regret that the most we'd spoken in the last few years was only by "chat" on Facebook. Yet, I know she didn't expect any more than that for that's who she was. She loved and appreciated everyone and every day.

Sitting in the church and watching most of my former teachers pass by was bittersweet. ( Loretta's mom was my second grade teacher) Afterwards at the luncheon we reminisced about days gone by and laughed until we cried. Three hours later a few of us were still there long after the tables and chairs were loaded in the closets and her family members drove away. Our friend Terri suggested we head over to the school and take a trip down memory lane.

Terri, Laura and walked the halls of the elementary school thirty some years later in search of those indiscreet places where we scrawled our names back in the 70's; we recounted stories of our principal who was more like a dictator and concurred that she was abusive and would have truly been thrown in the slammer for pulling similar acts today. We laughed about writing naughty Mad Libs and then being busted by one of the nuns who threatened to ban us from the coveted sixth grade picnic. (We went) We traded stories about our many antics that none of us had been aware of way back when and asked forgiveness over taunting one another about our tacky shoe choices over the years. (When you wear uniforms everyday), there isn't much else to make fun of. In the moment I just wanted to transport myself back to that place of innocence and pure joy and make time stand still. A time when we were so sheltered the outside world rarely had a chance to harm us. Our parents devoted their lives to protecting our childhood and most parentingvalues lined up with one another's. Although most of us rarely correspond, other than infrequent Facebook posts and now funerals, there is a bond that can never be broken between our classmates. At the milestones of the 10 & 20 year reunions many in attendance there still had axes to grind over inane, immature memories. But once you enter 40 and life seems much more sobering and --we've all had one of those life altering events rear its ugly head and wreak havoc on our lives.Those silly little issues have faded into memories that thankfully don't resurface on occasions such as a memorial service.

Loretta, I am deeply sorry you left us so soon. But you really haven't left because that unconditional love you so freely gave has lived on in the souls of St. Vincent's and the hearts of us all. Rest in Peace, beautiful friend.

1 Comment »

One Response to “I wish it wasn't under these circumstances.....”

Dan A Dahlberg said...

Hi Dana,

Just stumbled across your Blog in an old e-mail I had saved. Doing some data house cleaning

So sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend. Thankful you got to connect with the life current that runs so deep in shared relationship.

As I read your comments about relationship I found myself re-affirming the reality that the life we so hunger after has to be engaged with, fought for, wrestled in the mud over, and enjoyed. As you alluded to, this life is out in the deep waters of experience, far beyond the shallows of face book and other superficial contacts. Like a garden, it takes time and toil, but when the fruit comes, it is oh so worth it!

Here’s to enjoying Life!

Your Bro, Dan Dahlberg