Mary Claire Kendall
at Karen Roberts' Funeral
Christ Church Georgetown
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
|Karen Roberts c. 1995 at her lovely|
c. 1840 Georgetown home
Exactly a year later we spoke about the spiritual journey she was on. She relayed to me that someone had actually suggested that her suffering was a punishment. Well, I quickly disabused her of that possibility!
She came to understand that God loved her and was entrusting her with the agony of her gradual, total incapacitation for a higher spiritual reason ... so that, just as she excelled in all her worldly endeavors, when it came time to surrender her soul she would zoom straight to heaven ...
My last visit with Karen came exactly two and a half years after that first Easter Monday visit. It was Monday, October 13th. We were celebrating her mother Maxine’s 93rd birthday… Karen hadn’t come downstairs since Sunday, which was very unusual and a sign of her worsening condition. So we celebrated in her bedroom, hovering around her as she sat up in bed, suffering through the ever more horrific trials of just trying to breath. Yet, all the while she related with each of us as she always did. At 11 o’clock, when I was getting ready to leave after an evening downstairs reminiscing, Karen asked me to come up…
To my surprise, she was all tucked in bed with her headgear on, and literally looked like she was ready for “lift off”—so cute ... And, she wanted to make sure I was coming this weekend. So we set Sunday, and she clenched her hand, as best she could, and pursed her lips, mouthing “good.” But this time her look was so different ... it was a serious look, one of quiet and intense determination, as if she knew she was preparing for a far different visit ... the visit of a lifetime.
I had tried to impress upon her how wonderful heaven would be. One night this summer when I was describing its magnificence, in keeping with what St. Paul reported, she quizzed me, “You think so?” and I said emphatically “I know so!”
The last time we talked about heaven was on September 21st after an Emmys party at her home. There had just been a tribute to all the stars who had died ... it was very moving ... Johnny Cash, whom she knew, was among those remembered ... now, she had a newly-minted friend in heaven, ready to usher her in ... no doubt, to the accompaniment of his country music...
And, now, all of us have our own friend in heaven—someone to turn to when life here below becomes, at times, well, less than heavenly. And, my plea to Karen will be to help me handle the tough times with at least half the equanimity, elegance and quiet strength with which she faced the paralyzing, mystery disease known as Lou Gehrig’s. And, to enjoy the good times with the same great zest for life, which she had to the end.