Brian Frieder and his wife Pat were long-time members of the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque. His peaceful death in his sleep at the age of 74 came as an unexpected shock. Attendees reflected on his many stellar qualities and the depth of his dimensions within the supportive framework of a Unitarian Universalist memorial service.
A pianist played soothing music as people filled the sanctuary. A photo montage of Brian from youth to the present day was projected on a screen. In a thoughtful touch, every photo was labeled with the year and the names of the people in each picture.
Before starting the service, Associate Minister Angela Herrera reminded everyone to silence their cell phones. She said, “The sudden death of an active and healthy person is a shock… Nothing takes away the pain except time… The support and love of those present helps… While we come from different faiths, what unites us is a love of Brian… We transcend our different faiths and come together in trust.”
She then lit a chalice, a cup with a stem and foot, the symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith.
Reverend Christine Robinson shared the the words of Ecclesiastes:
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven —
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to laugh and a time to cry,
… and so on.
She said “Brian and Pat were beloved and active members of this church… He was strong and healthy… We are not ready to say it was his time to die… There was no time to say goodbye… We’re asked to walk this path of healing… Our relationship continues with him through this lifetime and maybe beyond… We can still talk to him and see him in our mind’s eye… We’ll conduct conversations with him in our minds and in our hearts, rather than in our world.”
The Buddhist writer Rashani wrote:
There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
After a quiet moment of meditation as the pianist played a soothing melody, Reverend Christine prayed, “Holy one of many names, strengthen us in our loss… Help us turn away from our grief for a moment to the telling of his life story.”
Reverend Christine started the stories with an overview of Brian’s childhood in Manitowoc, Wisconsin – the origin of his love for the Green Bay Packers football team. She outlined his path from student to teacher, a husband and father, an entrepreneur and real estate agent, a writer and artist. He was a man who wore bow ties, a mustache and mod glasses. During the open comments period, more details emerged.
He was funny and smart, a voracious reader. He loved poetry and wrote his own fun, quirky, interesting pieces. He was a man of unbelievable energy who never slowed down nor slept more than four hours a night. He was kind, steady, and decent, a stellar example of good adult relationships.
He wrote two books, one on improving public education and one for his granddaughter titled “My Dinner with Melissa: Unsolicited Musings on How It All Fits Together.” That spiral bound manuscript was on display at the reception after the service. It brought together physics, biology, philosophy, religion and other topics, and made them readable and understandable for a teenager.
He loved to travel, as evidenced by the photos from around the world – Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, India. He absolutely delighted in meeting new people and seeing new places. He loved movies, and was part of a movie group. His comments about films would always knock you off your chair. He was active in the church and with his neighborhood. He could talk to anyone about anything – no one was a stranger to him for long. He was a true Renaissance man, with too many aspects to describe.
One woman said, “His smile lit up his whole face, and when I saw it, it lit up my whole world.”
The service ended with a closing meditation for healing in our hearts, to help us remember Brian’s love. May it live on in all of us, and may we all be at peace. Everyone was invited to continue informal sharing of stories at a reception in the church’s social hall.
Many memorial service folders have a prayer or the 23rd Psalm. In Brian Frieder’s, there was an Ogden Nash poem and a few thoughtful lines:
A Drink With Something In It — Ogden Nash
There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth–
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.
* * * * * * * * * *
Go your ways,
knowing not the answers to all things,
Yet seeking always the answer
To just one more thing than you know.
Here is the obituary that ran in the Albuquerque Journal:
FRIEDER — BRIAN Brian was born on June 10, 1938 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He died at age 74 on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in Albuquerque. He died peacefully in his sleep. Brian was active and working and enjoying life on the day he died, as he had been on almost every day of his life.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Pat; his daughter, Kim and husband, John; his sons, Braden and Gary; his two granddaughters, Katie and Melissa; and his grandson, Ryan.
Brian received his BA degree from Northwestern University and continued with post-graduate work at the University of Chicago and the University of New Mexico. He was an educator who owned and operated an educational consulting company, which provided teacher training to public schools throughout the United States and staff training for the U.S. Navy and for a number of national companies. After his first retirement, Brian became a real estate broker and property manager for medical facilities in the Albuquerque area.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 3, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, 3701 Carlisle Blvd. NE, 87110. Memorial contributions in Brian’s name may be made to the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque.
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