Eulogy (by Gieta Gresh)
When I was seven years old, I met Carol. She joined our second grade class that year. We got to know each other one day on the playground. It seems that I chased her around the playground with a creepy crawler. In the process of chasing her, she fell down. This is something she never forgot…what a way to be welcomed to your new school. Surprisingly, Carol forgave me. She didn’t hold it against me, that is just how she was…forgiving.
I would say that by the third grade we were best friends. It was about this time I gave her the nickname Carrie. No one else called her Carrie, but I did and she let me. You see that was just how she was….accepting.
When we were in the 6th grade my sister died. The school we attended had a policy that students would stay outside the school until the entry bell rang. Many students ran and played until the bell rang, but Carrie and I would line up as soon as we arrived. This way we could be the first ones into the classroom. Whoever arrived first saved a spot for the other one. On the day that I arrived back from my absence due to my sisters passing, we lined up as always. Some of the boys in our class were mean. I don’t really know how else to say it and on this day it was my turn to be teased. They began to tease me about my sister. A huge lump formed in my throat and I knew that a stream of hot tears would follow if I could not pull myself together. I did not want to cry. Carol never said a word and in fact I don’t think she even looked at me, but very quietly she reached her pinky finger to my pinky finger and held it tight until I let out a long sigh. We never spoke of that incident, but this was how Carol loved…she loved quietly.
As we entered Jr High we spent hours on the phone. These were the days before the cell phone, which meant our home phones would be unavailable to our families for long periods of time. We read and re read copies of Sixteen Magazine and Tiger Beat. We had many boyfriends in those Jr. High years. I think our top four were Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Davy Jones, and Donny Osmond. Carrie’s favorite was David Cassidy. We sang Knock Three Times on the Ceiling and Cecilia into hairbrushes. We watched American Bandstand and we practiced long hours to create choreography to the Billboard top 40. We knew that someday we would perform at some famous venues and we did. We debuted in Carol’s back yard and then wowed people under the street light on the corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets. We stopped traffic a few times. It had nothing to do with our dancing ability—it was simply that we were dancing in the middle of the street. I went camping with Carol’s family and we spent untold hours at each others' homes. Once our oil heat went out on Christmas Eve and I spent most of Christmas Day at Carol’s house. By this time we spent so much time together I am not sure that anyone noticed that there was an extra person at the family Christmas celebration.
During our high school years we were both members of the Medical Careers Club. We volunteered together as Candy Stripers at the Berwick Hospital. We proudly wore our uniforms and pink and white striped caps. Neither of us went on to pursue a medical career, but I think we both knew we wanted to help people. We all know that this is what Carol went on to do…she cared for people. I am sure you knew that she cared for you.
In addition to volunteering at the hospital we also volunteered at our High School library. I think we volunteered to get out of class, but we soon found that we both loved working in the library. It was a sweet combination of books, organization and people. We spent many long hours shelving books and never once complained.
We went on several trips in our high school years. Boston, Ocean City, NJ and many church youth group retreats. Carol was very talented at appearing to be innocent. Once at a retreat she talked me into climbing out of the bathroom window and coming around the building to the door of our guest room. This would have been funny if one of the girls in our room answered the door, but in the meantime one of the leaders had arrived at our room. So, when I knocked on the door, the leader answered the door. Carol was laughing into her pillow and her whole bunk bed was shaking. Carol loved to have fun. She found pleasure in helping other people enjoy life as much as she did.
Also during our High School years we were both hospitalized…..not at the same time…Thank God….the hospital would have never been the same. When I was the patient, Carol concealed and delivered a Whopper to my bedside. Although neither of us was certain if this was a violation of the rules, but we were not taking any chances.
Not long ago I was ordained to Outdoor Ministry. At that time Carol shared with me that every summer when I went to summer camp, she really missed me and yet she saw how much I loved it. She said that because I loved going she never wanted me to know how hard it was for her to see me go for nine weeks at a time. That is just how Carol was instead for seeking what would have been good for her; she looked at what was good for those around her.
Over the years we have lost contact several times, but whenever we would reconnect we were always able to just pick up where we left off. There are a few friends in our lives that we have that kind of connection with. Carol was one of those few friends that stand out as a best and life long friend.
Carol and I never had a fight as friends. She never said a mean word to me. That was just who she was. When it came time to signed high school yearbooks, I am pretty sure I wrote RMA, you know remember me always in her year book. But Carol wrote several full pages in my year book talking about our friendship. I don’t think she knew then that I would be forgetful in my old age and need all those reminders about our friendship. But I do believe that she wrote details as an offering of love. You see she didn’t look at what she could get, but instead she focused on what she could give to someone else. That was who she was….not self seeking.
Carol was patient, Carol was kind. Carol did not envy, she did not boast, and she was not proud. She did not dishonor others, she was not self-seeking or easily angered, and she did not keep a record of wrongs. Carol did not delight in evil, but she rejoiced in the truth. Carol always protected, always trusted, always hoped, and always persevered. Carol was the true definition of what I Corinthians 13 defines as love.
Carol, I just wanted to stop by today to say, “See you later and when I get there, we can pick up then where we left off.”