Tuesday, April 3, 2012

HOLY WEDNESDAY: R.I.P. ANN-KRISTIN





WILSHIRE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
WILSHIRE AND PLYMOUTH BLVDS., LOS ANGELES
THE MEMORIAL WASN'T HERE BUT I MET A-K AT VARIOUS
KINDS OF GATHERINGS HERE MANY TIMES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
Sunday I attended a memorial for a friend, Ann-Kristin, who was an important part of my journey. For a period of eight or so years, she gave me unstinting, generous, personal help. For many more years than that,  she was a presence and a comfort in a recovery fellowship hat is one of my lifelines.

It was a beautiful memorial, packed with folks whose lives Ann-Kristin had touched. Many people gave eulogies: funny, poignant and true. "Boy was she stubborn." "Ann-Kristin could be difficult." "Ann-Kristin could be volatile." "Ann-Kristin could be brusque."

And also "Ann Kristin had a way with emotionally damaged people like no-one I've ever seen." "Ann Kristin was a stunning speaker." "Ann-Kristin loved to dance; Ann-Kristin loved nature, Ann-Kristin was an accomplished writer. Ann-Kristin never gave up hope." "Ann-Kristin was of unbelievable service."

Two things about Ann Kristin stand out.

One was that her telling me that her mother had been in a mental institution for most if not all of A-K's life. Along with many other equally horrific circumstances, this had made for a difficult, if not traumatic childhood. The way I remember her telling it, Ann-Kristin had given up  trying to make contact with her mother. She had self-pity, anger, and resentment around her mother.

And one day, with the help of her own spiritual guides, she realized: Call your mother once a week and tell her everything that's going on your life just as you wish she could tell you. Give to her what you wish she could give you herself. Give her the news, tell her the flower you saw on your walk, the triumph at work, the little argument you had with your friend.

Over time, the resentment and self-pity disappeared. What was left was compassion. What was left was love.

The other thing I especially remember was calling Ann Kristin one night, many years ago, for guidance. I can't remember what the problem was, but I know I went on for slightly longer than someone who wasn't quite so self-obsessed might have. I remember that Ann-Kristin listened patiently. I remember that she gave me her usual common-sense, warm but firm guidance. I remember that I felt consoled and encouraged, as I always did after I spoke with her. I remember that at the end of the conversation, I asked, "So how are YOU?"

"Fine, really, thanks," she replied. "I have my surgery in the morning but everyone has been so kind and supportive and I'll go with God."

The surgery was a double mastectomy.

She died of breast cancer.


CROWN-OF-THORNS
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DID FOR ME

7 comments:

  1. [tears] The grace of Christ, pouring through His wounds into ours out into the world...

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  2. Grant eternal rest unto her soul, O Lord.

    God be with you Heather. ((Fraternal ether hug.))

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  3. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I will remember your friend in my prayers and also pray for you.

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  4. Going on retreat tomorrow and will be praying for you Heather, everyone who loved Ann-Kristin, and the repose of her soul.

    Much love and prayers during this Holy Week,

    Theresa

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  5. "God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom."
    Just barreled through Poor Baby. Great job, Heather. Thanks for your faithfulness.

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  6. Sweet and touching, Heather.

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  7. Heather,

    My condolences on the loss of your friend. What a loving tribute to a life well lived- making something holy and healing out of her pain. It sounds like the fruits of her life will live on, as your testament here gives witness. Everyday saints are around us, but they certainly are not "ordinary", are they?
    I have relied on your posts this Holy Week. The obligations of family and the busyness that comes with that can get me in a Mary or Martha pickle, so my prayer time is caught in moments this week rather than something quieter or longer. Clearly, God provides! I just read your Good Friday post and it will supply me with images to reflect on today.

    Pete (son) and I are listening to Elvis' Gospel recordings. He tends to get bored and require a LOT of attention when there is no school. Yes, God provides.
    Love and prayers during this holiest of times.

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