Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can’t Buy Me Love: A Tribute to Lee

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

~ Ecclesiastes 1-2a, 4, RSV

In 1964 the Beatles wrote and recorded the song Can’t Buy Me Love with the line “I don’t care too much for money/money can’t buy me love.” I write this article as someone who has been blessed with deep and meaningful friendships, people who by their influence and encouragement helped make me more and better than I would otherwise be. Early Monday morning Lee Alpern, one of those special friends, came to the end of her journey here. Full awareness hasn’t yet set in, but there are moments when the magnitude of my loss hits me hard.

I doubt that a computerized friend-finding program would have matched us up. We weren’t from the same generation. I grew up in Southern California; Lee was from Boston. I am Christian; Lee was Jewish. When we first met, Lee was a college educated and highly motivated career woman; I was a secretary with a high school education. Still, we “clicked.” We could share on a deep level. Lee challenged me, encouraged me, and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Just a few weeks before she died she expressed her conviction that I have big things ahead of me – my number one supporter! And now she’s gone.

Fortunately, I have good memories. I have also been bequeathed a new, or at least larger, family – Lee’s daughters, three very different women but three women who carry pieces of her not only in their DNA but also in their character: strength, humor, devotion, and intelligence. Even now, in the midst of grief, I feel blessed.

I still have tears to shed. I cry, not for Lee, but for myself, for Barbara and Sherry and Debbie, for Jon, for her grandchildren and cousins and friends. And that’s o.k. We have lost someone dear and it is right to acknowledge that loss.

Unlike most of what we attain in life, the price we pay for love can’t be quantified, but sometimes it is a very high price. Earlier this week as I stood beside Jon, just hours before he lost the love of his life, I was reminded that sometimes enormous pain is the price we pay for love. Right now, the universe is demanding payment. The richness Lee brought to my life for these past eighteen years was worth every bit of it. May she rest in the arms of the Holy.

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