I fully intended to start this post with an appropriate level of sobriety and concern. As you can see, above, I instead chose to quote Zoolander. C’est la vie when I talk about la muerte (that’s death, y’all).
In one of my counseling classes (what did i ever blog about before I was back in college?), Grief and Loss, possibly where I’ve learned the most about encountering suffering and the human condition, we were assigned to write our own eulogies (I keep hearing “eu-goo-gle-ly” in my head and giggling!) and ethical wills. Ethical wills are amazing concepts and mine actually makes me all teary eyed so I’m NOT going to share it, but the following is my eulogy. So if I die soon, someone read this at my funy-whatsit.
Though she cared for all of you while she was here, she does not miss you and she will not. She hopes to see you all again someday, but nothing can take her eyes away from Jesus now, and her hope that you’ll join her is really that you’ll get to join Him, the greatest joy.
In her early years, Maritza was actually called Amanda, or Mandy. She was a loved, over-thinking, quite ethnically ambiguous little thing and it may surprise you to know that as a child she was rather calm and always entertained herself. When she started school at age 4, she became known as Mawitza. Because she had a speech impediment. Around 3rd grade she finally got to be Maritza. She didn’t become “Ritz,” as most of you know her, until 7th grade, when she got frustrated with people calling her “Marissa.” because there was a “t” and a “z” in her name and she preferred proper enunciation. The fact that she wanted all this in her eulogy shows you she was pretty ridiculous no matter what the age or name.
Ritz lived a long time in despair. That’s a rough thing to say in a eulogy but it’s true. She struggled with depression and suicidality for a long time. When she was 15, she learned that Jesus rose from the grave (she’d always heard that he died for her sins, but wasn’t that impressed since everyone dies at some point). Her heart broke, became flesh, and cried out for Him, for Jesus. She was never the same (but she might have looked it, sometimes). Even after she met Jesus, it took a long time for her to get to a point where she didn’t let her circumstances look bigger than God. She tried really hard to be good enough and to prove that she was worthy, until at some point she learned that she WASN’T good enough or worthy, except that God said so. So she stopped leaning on herself and started leaning on Him. It was a process. It took all the years between her conversion and her death and she still hadn’t gotten it down, but she could be quite stubborn so we shouldn’t be surprised.
After her conversion, Ritz was different. She smiled a lot. She fought more for what she believed in, and she dated the most beautiful boy she’d ever known. She continued to do that until she died. What? There are a lot of beautiful people in the world. There is a lot of life to fall in love with. When she looked back at her life, she was sure there were failures too high to count, and took great solace in the fact that God was perfect, and that he planned even those failures to be used for His glory and the good of all those who love Him.
For a reason she never quite understood, but always appreciated, people ended up loving her. Really loving her. She experienced that people are generally capable of quite extraordinary-ness, and most of the time she set out to see that in them. She was very difficult to have a surface level conversation with. One of her greatest joys was just to connect with other human beings, to help, to be able to say “yes,” when they asked something of her. She also got very skilled at saying no. But that ended up being a pretty good thing, too. Ask her bosses.
For the record, yes, she did a lot of very stupid things. She eventually became more stealth and more refined about it, but she never stopped doing stupid things until she died. Every moment of her life she was a broken, sinful creature. Every moment she was also called by God, his beloved. She was sorry if you saw more of the former than the latter, but she trusted that it’s what you needed. She wouldn’t want you to over-sentimentalize, to remember her as different than she was; If she was a jack-waggon to you, go ahead and let that out. You can say it. She WAS sorry, by the way. She would have made it up to you, if she could have. She would advocate, if she was still here, that you feel whatever you need to feel, and that you look for God in it all.
Ritz was kinda funny sometimes. You should have laughed by now. Go ahead, laugh. Yes, it’s weird but so was she. You know you were thinking it, you weren’t the only one. See? That guy’s laughing too.
When not being a complete selfish jack-waggon, Ritz loved people. And she loved loving. She loved love. She was easy to entertain and difficult to keep still. A good friend called her the perpetual motion machine. She kinda liked that.
Ritz studied a lot of things. She liked to learn. She liked to play. She liked to think. She didn’t like the cold and she didn’t like scary movies. But she tried to make peace with the cold. She was happier being warm than almost anyone you’ve ever met. It’s possible that’s because she had some sort of sensory processing issue but it’s more fun to say she loved the warm, don’t you think?
Ritz was not very maleable. If you wanted her to change, you often needed to take a mallet to her. But she was changed by those who loved her well, and those she needed to love. She never became exactly who she wanted to be, but she got more an more okay with who she was as she realized that Jesus promised to keep making her more like him. ‘Cause he was perfect, y’all!
If she were here, Ritz would hug every single one of you and tell you she loved you and that you are loveable. She’d probably ask why everyone was wearing black because it’s not that visually stimulating but would also comment that she supports you doing whatever best sustains your mental and spiritual well-being. Then she would smile, bite her bottom lip, and scrunch up her eyes. She really enjoyed all of you.
Ritz believed in the healing power of counseling. She hopes her death doesn’t cause any of mental distress leading to counseling, but to be honest, she thought all of you needed it anyway. So as one of her last wishes, she wanted to encourage you all to go to professional counseling and to not be ashamed about it. She thought everyone could stand a little reflection.
Close to the end of her life, those who knew her said that she was marked by one thing: She loved Jesus. Again and again she heard, “We know that you love Jesus.” There is no greater compliment or more comforting mark she could have ever desired.
Ritz died and went to be with Jesus forever. She was not afraid, and closest to the end it was very difficult for her to remember she was still on earth, because she was so happy to be going to heaven to be with Him.
Ritz was survived by all of you. She was sorry she left and won’t be here to help you through this, but she is confident that you can be here for each other, and that this, too, is part of God’s perfect plan.
Ritz asked that in honor of her memory, you all be very loving to each other. For ever. Because that seems like too much to ask but she’s dead now, so she’ll never know if you failed.
Yes, she wrote that last part meaning it 100% and being ridiculous 100%.
Go, friends, and be with God and each other.