It’s going to happen.
Of this life we have, we can choose many things. We can somewhat choose who we love, who we bond with and what course our lives are going to take. Even in the not choosing, we choose. But death? We don’t choose that. Death meets us, some earlier than others and some later than what one might hope for or expect. And it’s the latter I’m faced with now.
My grandmother is dying. Like the dying dead kind of dying. She’s old. She’s old and she’s still beautiful and I love her. I love her today the way I loved her when I was six years old standing on her 70’s linoleum kitchen floor making cartoon faces with maraschino cherries in oatmeal cookies, getting ready to go watch my grandfather play golf. It’s the life that happened between us that oddly enough makes me long for her end to come quickly. She’s tired. And I’m tired for her.
She misses my grandfather. She misses her body as it was 40 years ago. But more than that she feels the gnawing ache of “please let my life be over”. So in that I find solace. She’s ready to go.
Can you blame her? You look back on your life and see years of laughter… I see her belly laughing and posing for some photographer, poised and proper yet spunky for her day. I see old photos of her… I see the contemplative look in her eyes, analyzing more than she revealed with words. She was always thinking. She was always beautiful. She was always intelligent and she was always amazingly strong and godly. She had the kind of wisdom that didn’t have to tell you she was wise; she just was. And on whatever matter at hand, she didn’t have a need to express her rightness to you. And in that, she oozed love.
This is the woman that looked challenges in the face and chose over and over again to do the right thing. She chose life. And because she chose life, I have the very same life, the very same understanding of God’s unending love and unending provision. I owe my life to this woman. I owe my blood and I owe my genes to her. Because of her, not just my physical body exists, but my view of the world.
She’s not perfect. No one is and no one will ever be. But she’s loved me. She’s loved me with an unending love that no bad decisions could ever compromise. This is the woman that held me on her lap, at an age far beyond my youth, and let me cry in repentance for the mess I’d made. She held me and tangibly exhibited the grace and mercy of God in a manner that could have only been understood in that moment. My, what some might consider, uptight southern Baptist Minister of Music grandmother, held me. She showed me the love and grace that only one who’s tasted it can share. And because she shared it with me, I now share it with others.
So yes, I’m sad for myself to lose the best canasta player I’ve ever encountered. I’m sad to lose my singing partner and Wheel of Fortune competitor. But more than that I’m grateful she gets to go out this way. That her life, through her incessant prayers and work to grow within herself, has made it to the end. She gets to go out knowing her life was a success.
Oh to see the look on her face when she sees my grandfather again... So long to be together, the exponential agony of being apart. That meeting, they get to meet again. They get to do it all over again but this time in a place where there is no suffering. There is no emotional lack or need. She gets to taste Eden. But this time, she never has to say goodbye.