This weekend last year, where after some heavy days and stormy weather, the sun had broken through the clouds and the mood felt lighter.
Even though Bo was sick, we were all enjoying the day . . . I had gotten donuts for us and Josh had opened his birthday presents. I can see myself leaning on the back of the chair when it went from sunny birthday to fulfillment of dread in just the amount of time it took me to press answer on my cell phone.
Unshowered and unable to believe what was happening, I packed a bag and tried to process that we were very likely about to go say goodbye to Granny. Somewhere on Dorado Beach, my need to be practical and protect the kids subsided and I gave in to the emotions I had been fighting off. Alone with my parents as we drove to Hot Springs, I had a sliver of hope that this would be another notch in her belt, another time where she beat the odds, but deep down I knew that this trip to the hospital was going to be different than the ones we had made before.
When we arrived at the ER, the attending met us and his face confirmed our fears . . . when her medflight landed, they knew that there was nothing more they could do. A nurse tenderly led us to Granny's room where the three of us surrounded her bed and through our tears and deep sadness, told her how much we loved her, how thankful we were for her, how proud she made us, how blessed we had been to have her, and that we knew she had fought hard all her life and it was okay to rest and go home. We kissed her and we held her hands and stroked her face and watched her take her last breath.
How surreal it was to watch her go from this life to the next . . . to know that she was no longer in our presence, but instead was in the presence of Jesus . . . to imagine my grandfather greeting her after their 15 year separation.
Since that day, we have faced many firsts without her, but somehow, this week as I realized all the firsts were coming to an end, I was overwhelmed with fresh sadness. After spending some time reflecting on why, I realized that as we move out of the phase of firsts, we move into life without her becoming "normal" or "usual." We have experienced a Christmas without her and a Mother's Day without her. Her absence being normal feels wrong.
Even though I am sad, so sad, and miss her desperately at times, I have no anger towards God, no whys . . . Granny was 87 and lived an amazingly full life. She gave and gave and never missed an opportunity to show us love. She was preceded in death by her husband and by her best friend, yet she never let that stop her from living and enjoying life here. She loved her heavenly Father and was a follower of Jesus, so I know that she lives on with Him in heaven and that I will see her again, but the ache of our separation is very real at times.
Granny was more than a grandmother, she was a friend and a confident. She was someone who helped me keep perspective and taught me to find humor in situations. And, even though I don't really believe that this is possible, I would almost swear that she has taken over Sascha's personality. They are so much alike which makes me laugh and cry all the time. Those two would have been the best of friends . . . always answering no first out of principal and then maybe rethinking and answering yes, mischievous smiles and dispositions . . . no doubt they would have gotten into some trouble together.
I am thankful for the 33 years I had with her and wish I could have had 33 more. I don't know for sure how to mark this occasion . . . I am trying to live my life since her death in a way that would honor her and I know that sitting around moping and crying would probably kind of irritate her. So, while I am doing some of that as well, Granny, I will try to do something selfless, something fun, and something a little impish in your memory (just in case you can read blogs in heaven). I love you, Granny.