Many of you might recall hearing me talk about my friend in Newport Beach whom I lovingly referred to as Crisis Bettie. This was because of her work on the San Bernardino Suicide and Crisis Line, but in any crisis, Bettie could be counted on. No matter what, Bettie kept her head on straight and her grip on the wheel.
Well, on Sunday I received an email from my dear friend Bettie's daughter-in-law, DJ, that Bettie, age 98, after many years on dialysis, and in steadily declining health, decided to take herself off the blood washing procedure and let nature take its course. It was startling news, but not a huge surprise.
Bettie was always very pragmatic as when she gave up driving after a few "close calls". Bettie had a good sense of timing, and Bettie was a realist. Many times in the 40 years I knew her, we talked about "quality of life" issues, and what we wanted should the time come when the pain of living outweighed the joys. Would we have the courage to pull our own life-line? Bettie did. I can only hope I will do the same.
Bettie came to that crossroad Sunday and met it head on. Two days after making The Decision, Bettie left us. I was a life, an amazing journey, and it ended today. A good life well lived. A life that touched so many, probably more than even Bettie knew.
I can only feel sorry for myself because she is gone. But that's on me. I will miss our good laughs at the existential madness of life here on earth. And I will miss being silly and giggling about the most trivial of life's trials. Bettie and I could talk about anything and did.
They don't make 'em like Bettie any more. I met Bettie while in college in the 70s when I volunteered on the San Bernardino Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotline. Bettie was one of the founders of the line and one of its best volunteer counselors. We worked together for ten years doing training and manning the line at all sorts of crazy hours. Its impossible to guess how many troubled souls were brought back from the "ledge" by her kind, active listening, comforting way.
I can only say I was blessed to have known her and called her my friend. She taught me more about being a friend than I could ever recount. As the pastor of my church often says at the conclusion of memorial services, "Well done faithful servant." Hands folded. Godspeed.