Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Beautiful Story

I'm not sure that I can summarize all that has been in my heart these last few weeks, but I will try, with simplicity, to explain my thoughts and musings.

A few weeks ago my dad called and told me that my grandma was not doing very well. He had visited her at Thanksgiving and then again in March for her birthday and her body was rapidly declining. THANKFULLY, God knows the timing of all things and last summer Ben and I had decided to take the kids to Idaho for our vacation. I know, a rip-roaring time, in the small town of Weiser, Idaho- known mostly for the fiddle festival, which makes it's showing the third week of every June. But we went down during this spectacular event and spent the week with my grandma and grandpa. I am so thankful that we did this. In hindsight, we had not lived in Spokane for a year yet and we left just two weeks after we had moved into a our new place, so it wasn't the most convenient time, but we went. So thankful for that time. Thankful for the prompting. Thankful to spend time with my gentle grandma when her health was still relatively good. Extremely thankful my big kids got to be with her and sit on her lap and feel her hugs and taste her cooking. Thankful I got to sit in her presence and be loved by her. Thankful I have pictures of Titus with her, even though he will never know her sweet touch and yummy tapioca pudding. Thankful.

My strong and gracious grandpa had been faithfully taking care of her for, well, 63 years of marriage, but the last 5 had been especially taxing when she began having some nerve problems in her feet. These last years were filled with small steps towards an inevitable ending. But he was faithful, faithful to his bride, the true meaning, right before my eyes, of "loving in sickness and in health." A privilege to watch this all take place. Love.

And then that call - the call when my dad said, she's not doing well, we should go see her. And over the week she continued to decline and I prayed. Oh God, please, please let her stay alive so I can see her one more time. Kiss her cheek. Hold her hand. And the whole way there I prayed, please Lord, keep her alive. We arrived and she smiled at my dad (her youngest son) and she looked into my mom's eyes and then, I will never forget, she looked at me and with no words just her eyes and her smile, she said, "I love you." Then my grandma went to sleep. So we kissed her cheeks and I pulled up a chair to sit by her side. I held her hand and my grandpa would stroke her hair and she slept. Her breathing was labored, shallow and sporadic, but she slept. Hope.

It's hard to know exactly how to explain what that time felt like. It's such a specific feeling that happens so rarely. It's like I knew that there was peace but there was also a deep, heart pounding of hope. Words don't always come easy to me (I know, hard to believe) but in those moments all I wanted was music. Music. Music to fill the space between the known and the unknown. So we turned on a tape (yes, some people still have tapes and tape players) and we listened to music and tried to talk about the normal, every day things. And my grandpa told us, that he had told her, she could go, that he would be ok. And my eyes watered. Then he got up and helped swab her dry mouth with water...And all I could think was this: I am looking into a mirror. At the end of my life. What do I want to have next to me? A man who loves me to the very last minute. A son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter who love me and hold my frail hand and ask me to keep breathing just a few more breaths. A God who is beckoning me into His heaven because He can't wait to declare, "Well done." Yes. These things. Desperation.

Then we all decided to go to bed. My grandpa on a mat next to her bed. And I slept. And I awoke to the sound of a grandpa crying. A grandpa crying will break the grand daughter's heart. Because she will know what it means. And then, my grandma was gone. Sadness.

All the events after this are not necessary. Because this is the Beautiful Story. She lived a beautiful life. She made beautiful children. She raised her kids to know her beautiful Jesus. She prayed fervently for her beautiful grandchildren and their children. She loved. She was loved. She passed beautifully in her sleep. She is with her beautiful Savior, in a mansion made for her! Joy.

Thankfulness. Love. Hope. Desperation. Sadness. Joy.

I love you grandma. Thank you for being a beautiful legacy for me. ~Your Crystal