This is sad. Death is an inevitable part of life. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. Even though it is usually sad, I think often it is deep down a good thing…like when a person has lived a full, long life, and it is simply his or her time.
It is my grandma’s time.
Yes, of course it is sad. I have already cried many times. I love her so much. She has taught me a lot over the years. She has taught me how to be gracious, kind…how to laugh…I will think of her always whenever I see a box of Vanilla Wafers. She kept a steady supply of them in the bottom kitchen drawer.
Despite the melancholy that I feel right now, I also feel a sense of peace. When my grandpa died, it was a serene time. Again, I was unbelievably sad…it was the first time I ever lost anyone really close to me…but he was ready. He also led a long, full, amazing life, and he was ready to meet his maker…to once again be reunited with his siblings. And I believe he is watching over me. I feel him sometimes, and it comforts me.
My grandma is ready to be reunited with my grandpa again.
I can feel it. Even though I cry as I type this, and it’s hard to see the words in front of me because the tears blur my vision, I know this is not a tragedy. She is not being taken before her time; she is being taken at the right time. It could still be weeks…months, even. It could be tonight. It’s not up to us. It’s up to God.
This is where my faith steps in once again…how do we know there’s a Heaven? We don’t. I just believe. I believe when I see a beautiful sunset. I believe when I get a big smile from my kids. I believe when I reflect on how wonderful my grandma is, when I remember all the fun things we did and how she tipped her head back when she laughed at something funny. She’s always loved Thomas Kincaid, and in her soft voice she would utter appreciation anytime she gazed at one of his works. She’s always possessed a softness and grace that also came through anytime she would play the piano, for church or at home. Her love for the Lord came through in every note.
My grandma has sometimes been a little hard to handle, and any one of her daughters or my grandpa would agree. I mean this with a smile, though. We’ve always laughed at the way she could be difficult while still being completely lovable. We love her unconditionally, no matter how trying she can be. She’s lived through the Great Depression, World War II while being separated from my grandpa…she built up a hardness, I believe, from going through trials I could never dream of experiencing. While this is true, she’s also always understood when I’ve expressed my feelings to her. She is simply a product from a different time period, that is all. She’s developed a rock hard strength over the years, and though it’s been incredibly difficult to watch her deteriorate, it is a part of life. We don’t understand and we ask God why we have to watch our loved ones suffer and die. It is so hard.
I want to remember my grandma as the vibrant, loving person she’s always been. I remember sitting in my parents’ hot tub with her when we first got it, and I jokingly asked her she didn’t wear a bikini. “I don’t have any boobs!” she said, laughing. She’d had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer. I remember when the movie Dirty Dancing came out and my grandma said, “It’s like sex with your clothes on!” I remember thinking it was a magic trick that she could take her teeth out and I wondered why I couldn’t do the same with mine. I remember spending weekends with her and Grandpa, listening to “Jukebox Saturday Night” or her favorite song, “Sentimental Journey,” on a cassette tape in the car. She sang along in her soft soprano voice, and I could detect somewhere in there the memories the song conjured up for her.
Memories. She is still with us, but she is not the same. Hospice has been called in. Soon we will have nothing but memories of her, but I do firmly believe that the time has come for her to be with my grandpa again. It’s time for her to once again, as we all teasingly say, “nag him” in Heaven, saying, “Russell!” Right now all we can do is believe. Believe in a higher power, believe in a higher plan, and believe that we will always feel her with us like I feel my grandpa. We will feel her with a sunset, with the sound of wind chimes, or with a gentle rainfall. And one sweet day we will be with her again.
I love you, Grandma. Always and forever.