I left knowing that I would not see her again on this side of Jordan. But, knowing something will happen, is different than when it happens. There is not that tidal wave of emotion, relentlessly washing over. Or the finality of it, no longer being a possibility, it is in fact a done deal.
In her hospital room in Fort Smith we made a deal. I would go to the Philippines, she would go to heaven, and I would meet her there after awhile. Apparently, we both meant it. Because I am here, and now she is there.
It is a weird mix of emotions. Sadness that she is gone. Relief that she is no longer in pain. Peace knowing she is in heaven. Regret that I am not there. I am not much help from this far away.
It is a little bit like Thanksgiving Day. I am aware of the reality of what its going on, but I am so far removed from the situation that it is easy to forget, and to simply pretend that this day is the same as every other day. However I am fine with being left out of fun. I am usually content to wait my turn for it. Greif though, is not a participatory sport. You do not choose to sit on the bench. It ceases you. At least it did me. I cried right there on the spot.
But please do not misunderstand my tears. I do not cry in some sort of hopelessness I cry selfish tears, knowing that if I live as long as she did, I will have to wait an awfully long time to have her kind of fun again.
And her kind of fun was the best. Ice cream parties. Popcorn parties. If you could dream it, she could make it a party. Her presence was as magical as Christmas. She brought candy and presents, enough to satisfy any kid’s dreams.
She had a dresser full of jewelry. I would sit in front of my mom’s childhood vanity and put the Home Shopping Network to shame. I could happily go for hours up to my ears in her jewelry. Demonstrating their different uses. Selling them in mass quantities. She would just laugh. And tell me the stories behind each piece. I especially loved it when it was a piece that Grandad had bought for her.
There was fire in those eyes. But as fast as she would light up, she could soften, and without even a blink crack a joke that would send us both into silly giggles and full out laughter. She possessed the unique trait of being able to laugh at herself. Something that I have tried to emulate in my own life.
She taught me unconditional love. I never doubted that she loved me, I never had a reason to. As a child she was my buddy, as a teenager my confidant, and as a young adult one of the very best of friends. The kind that even when they do not remember who you are, they know to be happy you have come, and that for some reason or another, they love you. Extra specially a lot.
So, no death does always not knock, sometimes it sneaks. Sometimes it pounds. Regardless of how it comes, it is final.
Gramomma, made it her mission to make sure that all the children who left her church’s children’s ministry knew Jesus. She would go to their homes, hunt them down at church, whatever she had to do. (For her 85th birthday party we had people write notes, I was humbled to read them. So many people know Jesus because my grandmother was faithful to her God.)
Knowing that gives me peace; my absence is not a disrespect to her but a lesson learned. A lesson lived. She taught me about unconditional love, because she demonstrated Christ’s love. She taught me to obey God, because His love is worth sharing. Even when it is not an easy task, it is our responsibility to obey.
Christ’s love gave His life. And brought victory over death. Christ love saves from sin. It speaks peace. And hope. And victory.
My Rosie, is in heaven, not because she was good. Not because she taught Sunday school for over 50 years. And not even because both of her children are in the ministry. But because as a child, up in an apple tree she asked Jesus to forgive her sins and save her a place in heaven.
Call on His name. Believe in His words. Have faith in His life, and His victory over death. It’s a relationship worth lived for. A hope worth having. And in the end, a place to go home too.
My grandmother taught me that. And for that, I am thankful.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
Oh death, where is your victory?
Oh death where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God ,
Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.