Ah, to be present at your own memorial service! The beautiful soprano voice of Jacquie Walter, MD, 58, was part of a creative memorial service within the outline of the Presbyterian Service of Worship at St. Andrew Church.
Jacquie had already been celebrated by her family back in Minnesota, where she grew up. This was a second memorial service put together by friends in Albuquerque to remember a talented ER doctor, musician, and singer. One lovely touch was a piece of paper inserted into the program with the line “Please share a memory of Jacquie for the family” across the top, so attendees could preserve and offer their stories to her siblings in Minnesota.
Before the service started, a DVD of Jacquie performing with musical partner David Straub was projected on the screen. A pianist provided prelude music, and the Rev. Dr. Frank Yates offered words of welcome and led the call to worship. We sang hymn #464, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and Pastor Yates shared scriptures Psalm 121 (I lift my eyes unto the hills…), Ecclesiastes 3 (For everything there is a season…), and John 14 (Do not let your hearts be troubled … in my father’s house there are many dwelling places…).
In his homily, Rev. Yates said, “The end of the journey has a turn in the road we cannot see.” He spoke of the healing Jacquie did with the hands of a physician and the voice of a musician. He also said the end of the journey is filled with song, referencing a passage from Revelation about the world being filled with song eternal, and that Jacquie’s voice has joined in that great choir.
Then several friends got up to provide reflections on Jacquie’s life. Some background, from the program:
Jacquie Walter died peacefully on Sunday, October 10, as she wished, in her own bed with her dogs, Remy and Dulce, and a few close friends at her side. Jacquie had bravely undergone chemo and radiation for her recently diagnosed lymphoma, but the cancer proved too strong…
Jacquie will be remembered for her hospitality, especially her Thanksgiving dinners; her willingness to help strangers; her stubbornness; her legendary dislike of house cleaning, and her ability to make life-long friends. Her loves included her son and her friends, her dogs, her home and gardens, football (always the Minnesota Vikings), bird watching, and camping and hiking. She was also a talented musician who played piano, oboe, and guitar and she sang beautifully. She graced many church choirs with her lovely soprano. She loved being in the spotlight and performing.
Bill Miller said, “Some people sing music, some write music, some are music – Jacquie just lived it in her soul… If angels really do sing, heaven just got a marvelous soprano.” Her friend Monica said, “I know she’s off having an awesome adventure without me, very busy investigating her new world… When my journey in this world is over, I know she will be there waiting with hugs and fill me in on all the details of what I need to know.” Marcia Lewis, who’s known her for 30 years, said “She couldn’t organize laundry, but in the ER she could save lives with grace and precision.”
The St. Andrew Choir, of which Jacquie was a member, sang the anthem “What Wondrous Love Is This,” all recited the Affirmation of Faith, followed by hymn #526, “For All the Saints.” After the pastoral prayer, a recording of Jacquie singing the Lord’s Prayer was played, and it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. The service finished with the commendation, charge and benediction, choral response (Amen!), and postlude music.
At the reception afterward, which featured chocolate raspberry cake (something Jacquie loved), friends distributed two “funeral favors” – a DVD of her musical performance shown before the service, and a copy of a prayer by Mother Teresa, which Jacquie loved to meditate upon.
The calligraphy quote on the front of the program read:
Support us all the day long,
until the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and work is done.
Then in thy mercy grant us
a safe lodging,
and a holy rest,
and peace at the last.
May Jacquie Walter continue to sing in the heavenly spheres.