From Debbie Macomber

Everyone has that one friend that is as close as a sibling. For me it was Roberta. We were both authors writing for the same publisher, but we didn’t really know one another until we were both sent on a cruise for readers. Roberta attended a class on the cruise, where I was teaching women to knit. She knew how to knit but it had been years since she’d picked up a pair of needles. I don’t remember that we made a personal connection on the cruise, but I believe she reached out via email afterwards. Later, while I was on book tour in Phoenix, she joined me for lunch. It was then that our friendship started to blossom. And blossom it did—into a beautiful garden of conferences, lengthy conversations, and adventures around the world, all of which blessed my life.

I’ve never met anyone as giving or as caring as Roberta. I never saw her lose patience. I never saw her lose hope, and I never saw her lose faith. Nor had I met anyone as talented and gifted as my dear friend. When it came to research, she had the power to dig and hunt as if seeking buried treasure. Once, I was finishing up a knitting project and bemoaned the fact that I was about five yards short of yarn. I couldn’t find another skein anywhere. Roberta tackled the problem and discovered the yarn was completely sold out. There was none to be found anywhere. Undeterred, she contacted the manufacturer and convinced them to dye on additional skein for me.

One of our greatest joys was attending knitting shows and conferences. Because I owned a yarn store at the time, we were able to attend TCA and purchase yarn at 50% off. And shop we did, until our arms grew too weak to carry more. We had more than three bags full. At the end of the day we’d spread the yard across the bed in our hotel room and decide what we intended to knit with each special find. The conferences were the same. We gorged ourselves on wool and laughter. While we shopped during the day, we plotted books at night. Even in the last hours of her life, we talked knitting patterns and book ideas. Her mind was constantly full of ideas and plots. Between yarn conferences and story ideas we were true sisters of the heart.

As we grew closer, we introduced our husbands to each other and they, too, became friends. We traveled together, with Roberta doing most of the research and trip planning. Our first grand adventure was to Iceland and Scotland when Roberta and I signed up for a yarn tour. I can’t recall how we convinced our husbands to accompany us, but they did. While Chris and Wayne might not have enjoyed the yarn shopping, they enjoyed each other. Then came the California wine tours, an African safari with Chris, a land excursion in Rome and Venice along with a cruise. We found multiple excuses to be together.

Our dog Bogie loved Roberta, too. He would snuggle up in her lap while she sat knitting in my yarn room, and the two of them would be utterly content. How I am going to miss those times with my dear friend.

When Roberta discovered she had cancer, she tackled the disease the same way she did everything else. She went to her computer and took cancer on with an intensity that defies definition. Convinced she could beat it without the savagery of the traditional treatments, she set about her own regimented course toward health and healing. We will never know if she made the right decision. What we can rest secure in, however, is that she did what was right for her.

Roberta was one of the most loving and genuine people I’ve every known. She gave of herself at every opportunity. None of us here today had a better friend. Her kindness and generosity couldn’t be matched. She loved with the same intensity that she did everything else. Her husband was her true soulmate and raising her son into the man he is today was her pride and joy, and what she felt was her greatest accomplishment in life. To be able to see her son become married gave Roberta great solace, knowing that she would soon be leaving him.

I will miss Roberta more than words have the power to express. She was my dearest and closest friend. The last time we were together, just days before her last moment on earth, I made three promises to her—promises I intend to keep.

After I left her side that last time, and knowing she was close to death, I texted her a Bible verse each morning. One of the last ones I sent was from First Corinthians, Chapter 2, Verse 9: NO EYE HAS SEEN, NO EAR HAS HEARD, NO MIND HAS IMAGINED WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.

Roberta is in glory now, and her suffering is over. Before she left us, Roberta made a promise to me, too: She’s saving a seat for me in heaven’s yarn room, right next to her. One day we’ll be together again, knitting and plotting books.