Honesty compels me to warn fans of Constantine Maroulis that this post is not really about his band, Pray for the Soul of Betty. When I first heard about them, I wondered how they came to select such a name and if it holds any specific meaning. That puzzlement is probably one of the reasons the name appealed to band members. It helps to have a label that stands out amidst the noisy throng of musicians fighting for our attention. Pray for the Soul of Betty is a distinctive mouthful with an aftertaste of artsy angst. Plus, the name Betty by itself is retro-cool. Maybe someone will explain all when their CD is released this coming Tuesday.
In a completely different context, the phrase pray for the soul of Betty was infused with poignant meaning this week for one family and we who love them. Betty was the mother of a very dear, special friend. In a common twist for baby boomers of the in-between generation, my friend was frazzled by the demands in recent years of caring simultaneously for a daughter in bloom and a mother in decline, both stubbornly clinging to their independence. Betty always said she wanted to pass swiftly and in relative peace, and she did. She also said she never wanted to be placed in one of those assisted living facilities, but the unavoidable reality of her medical needs forced a heartrending decision, the kind that leaves a daughter feeling like a traitor to the mother who gave her life and who is too far gone to grant forgiveness.
Yesterday a mobile shrine traveled from church to burial site to the restaurant where we gathered to honor a life liberated from earthly suffering and to comfort the survivors haunted by guilt and grief. It is a long goodbye, I told my friend, which takes the rest of your life. I know she remembers, as she was my staunchest support after my mother died and tried to rescue me from the deep blue funk that I believe led directly to my breast cancer.
I reminded her that friends are the family you choose and in her sorrow she seemed to understand. As her self-appointed big sister, I will make sure she never forgets. As her grateful friend, I will pray for the soul of Betty and the healing of her family.