I’ve been writing parts of this post in my head for over a week. I’ve spent a lot of time not writing it because I was trying to make it not sad. Well, I believe I have found the not-sad part, so here it is. Please bear with me. 🙂
This Friday will be the last official day of classes of my first semester of grad school. One year ago on this day, I was submitting my first official grad school application… to the school I am now happily attending. Also (and more importantly) on this day, my grandfather passed away. 47 days later, on the day my last grad school application was submitted, my grandmother followed.
I think about them every day. Sometimes, these thoughts are mixed with thoughts of other people I’ve lost– Papa (my other grandfather), Jessica, Aunt Emma, Mr. Kristoff. Sometimes I dream about them. Sometimes I find myself talking about them or sharing my grandmother’s stories or sayings. Or I’ll see an old man in a WWII hat in the grocery store. Sometimes I cry, for seemingly no reason at all. A year later and there are still bad days. Days where I have flashbacks to hospitals and three months of my life that I can hardly believe were real. Lately, I have trouble believing it’s been a year. It doesn’t feel that long. And yet it’s been achingly long since I’ve heard their voices.
I’ve struggled with being normal. I’m not the same girl I was a year ago. I’m not sure if everyone else sees it, but it’s visible to me on my face. Sometimes in my mourning them, I mourn a little for myself. For the old me who didn’t know the pain of this loss. For the people who will come into my life one day– like my children– who not only won’t know my grandparents, but won’t know me– the “before” me. My concept of death is more complicated. Simple worship songs at church that throw around words like “death” and “life” bring about more thought than they ever have before. I know my grandparents had put their faith in Jesus. This assures me that they are in Heaven, that I will see them again. That they are ok– even better than ok in fact– they are living better than they ever have!
Still, this has been bothering me. And the other night, I prayed that Jesus would help me. I suppose I was looking for some peace. I asked to see them. I’m not sure I expected an answer, or what I expected. But last night I had the most fabulous dream in which I got to “visit” with my grandfather. We talked, laughed, ate, and danced. And it was perfect. When I woke up, I felt peaceful and happy. A little bittersweet as I strain to remember the sound of his voice and the depth of his laugh, but happy.
And I did my morning devotions. I’m reading from Jennifer Kennedy Dean’s “Pursuing the Christ,” a daily Christmas devotional for the month of December. Today’s reading is on Gabriel’s visit to Mary, to tell her that she will become pregnant with Jesus. It talks about the fact that Mary was engaged to Joseph– how she was probably excited and involved in her own life. Making wedding plans. Thinking about her own comfy life and future. Until the angel showed up, that is:
But somehow the reality of Your call on her life settled on her. You broke through
her uncertainties and made Yourself heard and known. In the course of a
conversation, all her carefully laid plans were upended and scattered, and Mary
became someone altogether different. The old Mary–she of little, tightly held plans–
was buried and a new Mary was born.
You reveal Yourself to be One who can use a life only after it has passed through
death. Your favor on Mary would call her to die to her reputation, to her pride, to her
expectations, to her caution. But out of death arose a life that You could use to do
more than Mary ever imagined. (Dean, 2008)
I can’t say that I’ll never feel sorry for myself again. But I can take comfort knowing that God has a purpose for even this. My grandparents are happy and healthy and well. And until I see them in Heaven, they will live in my heart and in my dreams. And I may never be the same, but neither was Mary. I will never give birth to the Savior of the world. But I can point to Him. There is Divine purpose– and Divine Grace– to envelop the time I spent “passing through death.” So as I remember this week, this Friday, and going forward, I will remember the good. And when I think about what my grandparents went through, I will remember where they are now. And when I think of what I used to be, I’ll remember where God is bringing me. ❤