Almost eight months later, I'm still processing. Some days it's real, other days it's not. I dream of her, I feel her presence in her house, I see her in every holiday decoration, and bunny rabbit (her favorite animal). Her death happened so fast none of us had really any time to even blink. She died in the hospital with her family surrounding her. There were about 20+ people spilling out of her ICU room into the hallway, and we were still missing people who wanted to be there. I think the hospital was a bit overwhelmed by our presence to say the least.
As soon as I had been made aware of her situation earlier that week, I came to the hospital. She was groggy when I first saw her, but alert enough to tell me she loved me and that I needed to carry on. I know it will sound weird, but I feel that in the moment we both knew, this was it.
Truth be told, I think she's known for the past five years. In 2009 - 2010 she battled colon cancer and won, for a time. It's not any easy thing to accept, but the Lord gave me so much peace in that moment in the hospital. I am grateful for every moment Grandma and I had together. I am incredibly sad to see her go, but even sadder for those she has left behind. It has taken a huge toll on her entire family.
|Eric & I with my grandparents, our wedding 2012.|
|Four generations of women. Me and my mom obviously take after the Lebanese side hehe.|
Sometimes I find myself ready to go to her house and talk. Could we just have one more conversation? But in my heart, I know I am okay. We left things as they always were, which was always good.
|Doing what she did best, feeding people.|
I am grateful she loved the Lord. She had a servant's heart. She loved people and gave so generously with her time that it's a miracle she had any to herself. In her later years, she made it a point to extend the grace and forgiveness that had been extended to her. She never complained, never griped, never cursed. If I could sum her up in one word it would be LOVE, and she was a mirror reflecting the love of Christ. In Isaiah, Christ is described as a lamb who never made a sound, even under affliction and and transgression, this is a quality she embodied to her last breath. Like any other human, she was by no means perfect, but she was a rarity.
|The stained glass at St. Maria Gorretti.|
Grandma's passing has been a symbolic time for me. It's like an entire act of my life is over. Strange to happen in the summer I turned 30 and began a new season of life. It's a bittersweet reminder of mortality and the changing of life's seasons. We all have to die, we all know it's coming, yet we get so ingrained in earthly life we often believe what we have is invincible.
Here today, gone tomorrow... life is like grass, vapor, a wisp of smoke. Solomon bemoaned this in Ecclesiastes, yet we don't grasp this reality until we have experienced death or deepest loss. Death is strange. I have never experienced it until now, and it's something so mind-boggling I still can't quite put it into words. The sting of death can vary depending on the age of the person, how they died, and the kind of life they lived.
...yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. - James 4:14
I always pictured Grandma being there to see my first feature film in theaters, but it's one of the many things I won't get to share with her. It's also sad to know that any children I might have will never know her... but I realize I can carry on her legacy. The sadness of her leaving is eclipsed by so much goodness from her time here on earth.
August 2014, my mom's birthday in Payson. Less than a year before her death.
Something that came to mind recently was Hans Christian Andersen's short story, The Little Match Girl. Disney also made a lovely short film of it. This was always a favorite story of mine since childhood, even though it's sad. I encourage you to read it for yourself, but basically it follows an orphan girl as she dies in the cold on the streets. In her last moments, she starts lighting matches to "keep warm," but what they really give her are hallucinations. She remembers her Grandmother's home, the food on the table, the Christmas tree... She keeps lighting matches just to see the warm house, and to see her grandmother. In the end the girl dies, but we're left with the image of her running into her grandmother's arms wherever their spirits dwell. I could totally relate to that as a kid, not because I was an orphaned girl on the streets, but because I felt the same way about my grandma as the little match girl.
|From the Disney short film.|
The week she passed away I was bumming around on Pinterest, like I do, and out of nowhere stumbled upon this image (below). It shocked me because it was a bunny in the celestial sky. I mean who thinks of that? It's so random, but maybe it wasn't.
Is it possible to be grieving AND grateful? I definitely believe it is. I like to think this image was God's way of comforting me. As I said, they were her favorite animal, and every bunny I see makes me think of her. Her house was filled with them in figurines, plushies, paintings... She was called "Grandma Bunny" by her great-grandchildren and her famous bread rolls were affectionately named "Bunny Rolls." So, in the wake of her death, this image came to me. I'm giving a print of this to my family members this Christmas just as a reminder that she will live on forever.
And this is how I imagine her, a gentle creature in a celestial plain.
"Star Falls" - Toshio Ebine.