A girl has been asked to say a few words at a funeral: the year is 1950
|First off, I would like to thank you all for coming here. My friend, Gregory, was known to all who are here, to some in better view than others. However, barely anyone here knows me the way my first true friend did. In fact, for the first few years that I went to the same school as Gregory, I wasn’t the same person as I am now. Let me explain to you what I mean.|
For the longest time, I wasn’t exactly true to myself. You see, my name was always Rebecca Strong, daughter of William Strong, but during the four years before I met Gregory, I choose to go by my mother’s maiden name, which was Robertson. During those years, and even today, I lived with my mother, and didn’t have any real friends. You see, my parents have been divorced since I was three, due to differing views in how to raise me, and the only “friends” I got during the six years leading to me going undercover were usually those who wanted something from me in return, usually in the form of monetary favors. However, this was nothing compared to Gregory’s life.
You see, about five years before the war began, Gregory Samuelson’s parents had just met at the world’s fair. Shortly afterwards, after having a little too much to drink, they agreed to marriage. His parents gave birth to my friend some time later. When he turned the age of three, his mother, Maria, as it was pronounced in our language, had taken young Gregory to Japan to visit some relatives, and his father, Justin, was supposed to meet up with the two later. That was their plan, but unfortunately, God and the world had another, in the form of the Second World War.
When the US got involved in the war, Gregory’s father, Steven, got drafted and tried everything he could to get his family to safety. However, this was just about impossible, seeing as no one with any amount of "American" blood was allowed outside of Japan, not even Gregory or his mother, who was perceived as such. Then, one day, when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, the absolute worst event in history happened, in the form of the atomic bomb. When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the place where my friend and his mother were being held captive, Mary died, but, perhaps fortunately, Gregory didn’t, due to his mother pushing him behind a barrier.
However, he had many scars, such as, aside from the occasional radiation poisoning, lacerations of all sorts, burns, partial loss of hearing and sight, and grief for his mother’s death that he would carry all the way to his deathbed. Fortunately, his fully American father was sent to the devastated village to find survivors. When he got to a small, tattered orphanage/hospital, he finally found his son and took him back into his household, with neither of them knowing the cost it would have on both of their lives.
Every bit of money Gregory’s father gained either went to education, food, bills, housing, or his only son’s health. This made the Samuelson family somewhat poor in both money and spirit, seeing as they thought there was no hope left. The worst part was that the hardships didn’t just happen at home. You see, Gregory had a nickname at the school we both went to: “Captain Freakazoid.” Now, it really wasn’t that he had a physical deformity, at least not entirely. The real reasons he was referred to by this horrible designation, it seemed, were that he was of Japanese descent, the very fact he had survived an atomic explosion, and the way he looked after the fact. To say the least, he didn’t have any real friends at any one time, so perhaps that was what made me try to befriend him.
When I first approached Gregory, he was a bit shocked, I admit, that I was actually talking to him without insulting him. However, after assuring him that I knew what it was like to be without true friends, we just sort of hit it off. We liked and/or disliked the same things, we agreed that Justin, one of the best athletes in our class, was nothing but a bully, and we both thought that Sarah, the “richest” and most popular person in our class, was a total snob and didn’t deserve to be popular.
When he asked me about my background, I was more than a little hesitant. I didn’t want to tell him my background just yet, so I gave him my mother´s maiden name, hoping to tell him my real last name later. However, when he asked about who my parents were, I told him absolutely nothing about my father. Knowing what he was thinking, since I only stuck to my mother’s side of my family, I simply told him that, due to my past, I didn’t think it was the right time to have him know my father’s side just yet and that I hoped he understood.
Gregory, already being the good friend he was, understood completely. When I asked about coming over to his house later, he accepted, saying he wished he could see my house first. That day, I took him to my mom’s house, even though I could have probably just as easily taken him to see my father’s house. Even though my father’s house was three times as nice as my mom’s, he was really impressed. I never showed him my father’s house during that time, out of fear of having him dying from shock.
However, nothing could prepare me for his house. Despite the fact that my mom’s house was twice as nice as his, it was actually very cozy, especially considering the fact that they got it on a very small budget. When I asked how they could afford all this, he simply replied that they built it themselves from materials they had found in the surrounding woods they lived in. From that moment on, I visited his house almost every day. However, after about a month or so of living a charade in the name of protecting our friendship, life came crashing down again.
One day, my father came to visit the school for Career Day. I tried to hide myself from him the best I could, but, the moment he saw me, he automatically called out, “Hi, honey; how’s my one and only daughter, Rebecca, doing?” I still remember that moment; the moment my cover was blown. Everyone’s jaws dropped and gasped with shock; and, of course, Gregory fainted. “Was it something I said?” asked my father, as if he actually cared about and/or even knew what I was currently going through: embarrassment, rage, fury, humiliation, and fear of the possible loss of the only real friend I would probably ever have.
Throughout that day, we didn’t speak to each other, each of us lost at words. By the end of the day, however, some sort of miracle happened. Just as we were starting to leave school, however, both Gregory and I were called to the principal’s office, not to talk to the principal, but to an old friend: a pastor. He talked to us for a while, telling us about Jesus and how if He was here physically, and He is here spiritually, He wouldn’t appreciate us giving up on a true friendship. He explained that Jesus, the Son of the Living God, loved, preached to, healed, and/or befriended hypocrites, tax collectors, and other sinners. He told us everything he could in the time he had and then invited us to church.
Two days later, we headed to church with our respective parents, heard the true meaning of friendship in a special sermon, and were baptized “privately” afterwards. We spent the rest of our lives dedicating it to Christ and to each other. That’s when things started to change: I actually showed Gregory my father’s house, after obviously warning him of a possible heart attack, made some new friends, besides Gregory, and did just about everything together; we even helped each other out with our bucket lists. However, nothing could prepare either of us for what happened next.
A few months went by before it happened: Gregory started to get extremely quiet about something. When I asked him what was wrong, he was shy about it at first, but then he told me something that would make me nearly faint: the radiation poisoning that “helped” him gain his infamous nickname was back, this time without any way to stop it in sight. Basically, he could live until the end of the school year, possibly half-way through summer, but, without a miracle, he would die in five-six weeks or so.
Knowing this, I did everything I could to make a miracle of some kind happen, and soon. I used my vast wealth to try and find a cure to his condition(s), as well as make his last days on Earth as fun and/or peaceful as possible. He did get better in some ways, but in others, not so much. It was during this time that I learned that his health was, in a way, getting better, but he had a new problem: the radiation poisoning was turning into cancer, with absolutely no cure in site. It was also during this time that I became friends with Gregory’s father.
I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a miracle going on. It wasn’t a cure, but a miracle just the same. Before then, Gregory was my only true friend, but, during that time, I was more open to friendships with almost everyone that wasn’t too well accepted. For the first time, I was accepted for who I was as a person, rather than for my wealth. Gregory was extremely happy to hear all of this. Three days after I told him all this, as his pulse began to slow, I thanked him for all he had done for me. Before he closed his eyes for the last time, he said, “You’re welcome, Ms. Rebecca Robertson; you’re welcome, Rebecca Strong.” The rest is history.
In conclusion, I would like to say that Jesus Christ would be very proud of those who came here for the right reasons. I believe that if Gregory were here, he would be very proud of me for taking the time to write our story out. So, from now on, I will try and do more to help everyone the way that Gregory helped me. Also, as Gregory told me on his deathbed, I will be forevermore known as Rebecca Strong. With Christ at my side, I am for certain that I will never forget him or the one true Savior.