I experienced something amazingly bittersweet earlier this week.
I got a phone call from my sister early Monday morning. She said that my sweet, sassy Grammie (my great grandmother) was on her deathbed. I had just spent time with her the day before on Easter. During our time together we exchanged kisses, loves & laughs. And then she did the usual: pat my stomach with the back of her hand and ask if I was pregnant. None of these things with her ever failed and I delighted in them all. I knew the second I got the call that I wanted nothing more than to sit with her in her last moments here on earth; so I drove.
Once I got there, chairs holding special people surrounded her in a circle around her bed as she rested with closed eyes and heavy breathing. The doctor told us that Grammie could still hear us; and occasionally she would acknowledge our words and touches. So we sat there as a family (pieces of us coming and going throughout the day) and we did the usual: banter, laugh, encourage, laugh some more, share stories upon stories, laugh some more, sit in the quiet. Tears were shed both happy and sad. There was peace. There was family. There was love.
As the day went on and her breathing became more labored, more and more family arrived. All the while, her husband, my great grandpa Ralph, sat by her side, while occasionally holding her hand, giving her kisses, & giving her crap (like he does to all). He intently watched her breathe and told us of tales from their 57 years together. At the end, after she passed, he said through tears, “I’m so glad I was here.” I think I’ll take that nugget of wisdom and keep it in my pocket.
I left to grab dinner around 6pm. I played with my nephew before his bedtime and enjoyed some time with my sweet grandma (who I adoringly call Nanny), as well as my awesome momma and sis. As our dinnertime came to an end, we got a phone call from my sister Sia. She told us to hurry, as Grammie was about to take her last breath. By the time we arrived, she had already passed. Sia and grandpa Ralph held her hands in her last moments.
When we walked in the room with tears filling our eyes, everything was silent. She looked like herself but then again she didn’t. She looked peaceful and she looked empty. And as sad as I was that I would never kiss her, love on her, talk to her or answer her always-anticipated question of being expectant ever again on this earth, I was joyful for her. This amazing woman went home. She went home to the place our souls long for.
She is now in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Savior, for she knew Him. Our joy is in the Lord, thus, I rejoice! I rejoice in the Lord for His promise. I rejoice in the Lord for His unfailing love. I rejoice in the Lord because Grammie is in Heaven; free of shame, fear, pain, hurt, & sin. I rejoice in the Lord because this place is not our home. I rejoice in the Lord because Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
Grammie will be truly missed by her loved ones here on earth that is for sure. But she will also be greatly remembered by the legacy she left behind. She loved the Lord and others, all loved her, she gave generously, she laughed, she spoke her mind, and she taught perseverance, integrity, courage & faith. She lived a full 90 years with all that she had in her.
I look so forward to the day that I will kiss her face again; the day that I will be in the presence of my King & Savior.