Friday, May 1, 2009

Losing Esther

I haven't posted on here in quite awhile. It's not that I don't have a long list of things waiting to go up. I've just felt a bit paralyzed the past few weeks. If I post something, I'll have to acknowledge the loss of my grandmother, something that I've really been struggling with. I know she's gone. I was with her when she died. But writing it down, talking about it openly...that makes it really final. Yesterday I went to her house for the first time since she died. Walking up the steps to the door was difficult, knowing that she wouldn't be inside, waiting in the kitchen with her cheerful greeting. Her love was still there though, in the many family members who gathered together to remember her. We had a brief graveside ceremony and on Saturday we'll celebrate her life with the countless people she touched over her 94 year life. I'll be sharing something I wrote about why she died the day before Easter. I haven't been able to write anything else about her amazing life, the blessings she imparted on me, how I miss her so much it feels hard to breathe at times, so I'll just post that. There's so much more to her than her death, but this is all I'm able to offer right now.

The night my grandmother died, I didn't want to go to bed. Going to bed meant waking up to a morning without Granny and I didn't think I could bear it. My mom hugged me and told me that even if I never slept, tomorrow would come and she would still be gone. I knew she was right, but once I got in bed I couldn't sleep. As I laid there, I started thinking about Holy Week and how the following day was Easter. I was so sure that Granny would die on Easter. It just made sense. Gramp had died on Thanksgiving, so it seemed right that she would pass on a holiday too. And Easter...could it be a more perfect holiday given her life-long devotion and service to God? Yes, Easter made sense. Or even Good Friday...dying the same day that we mark the death of Christ. It was symbolic, it meant something. But Saturday? I couldn't find the meaning in it. It bothered me, probably more than it should have. I guess I just felt like if I was being forced to live without her, I at least needed a reason, some deeper meaning than just the passing of life, to cling to. We don't really know much about that day in between Good Friday and Easter and I started to wonder how it must have felt to the people who knew Jesus. I thought about His mother, Mary, his brothers, and his disciples, particularly John with whom He had been especially close. I thought about how they too would have had to go to bed on Friday night knowing that they'd be forced to face the next day without Jesus. What pain they must have felt on that day, what sorrow. They must have been so scared and confused. And that's when it hit me. Not only did it make sense that Granny would pass on that "in-between day", it completely exemplified the life she lived. How many of us have sat around that little yellow kitchen table and shared our pain with her? How many of us have felt reassured and comforted in uncertain times by her steady voice and solid confidence? How many times has she offered wisdom in confusing situations or soothed fears by reminding us that we need only to focus on the day at hand and give the rest to God? Her life, her ministry was all about the "in-between days". My grandmother died the same way she lived, peacefully and with much grace. She died on an in-between day. I can't think of a more perfect gift from God than that.