Thursday, October 2, 2008

Death in Reality

My grandmother is dying. Quickly. Back in early June the doctors gave her 4-6 months. She is on Hospice and is taking morphine daily for her pain. The cancer is just growing upon itself and spreading throughout her body. Her time is growing short.

If there is one thing I could say to describe my grandmother it is that she is a Christian. She was always in church serving. She read her little "Daily Bread" pamphlets daily. She always put others before herself and knew all of the words to any hymn thrown her way. As the end of her life is approaching, she seems to have missed the mark. And please understand, I am not condemning her, I am merely stating some honest facts. For someone who read her Bible every day, she doesn't understand that it is not works or deeds that we are saved, but it is by God's grace. It is not works or deeds that earn us our place in Heaven, but by Death on the Cross.

It always amazed me when I would hear of people dying that had peace. They were ready to leave this world and never utter a single word of anger. Grandma is angry. With each family visit, she talks of how angry she is; how unfair this is that she is dying this way when others deserved to suffer more. I SO appreciate her honesty!! You know what, I don't think that I would feel too kindly about leaving my love ones behind even knowing that I am going to a better place. That better place is unknown. No one really wants to leave their comfort zones. Trust me, there are a lot of people that have come and gone in my life that I have wished bad things upon (I'm not proud of it, but that is the truth). How do you comfort someone at the lowest point in their lives? How can you promise them the peace of a wondrous place when you know that right now, you would not trade places with them?

We are preparing to go up to New York in the next couple of weeks to spend time with her and say our good-byes. I want my children to see her while she still knows who they are and that they are there. I want them to have conversations with her. I want them to tell her that they are okay and that they love her. It's all fine and well to stand beside a casket and say those things when someone is gone but how much more would it mean to say it now when she can hear it and rejoice with them in it? This will not be an easy trip for us. My older son is VERY close to her and she will be the first loss in his young life. Do we really say good-bye when we know that we will all be together again some day? Reminding Grandma of all of the people she will see again in Heaven has not brought her the joy that we had hoped. I am unsure of what we will say or what we will do but I want this to be a time of celebration, a time where we are not so focused on death but on life.

Each time that my mom shares a story with me about a visit that she has with grandma, it makes me sad. Sad because there is regret. For all of us. Time that we should have spent together, but didn't. Regret for opportunities long gone. Does Grandma regret giving her life to a job that gave her nothing when she retired? Does she regret not having traveled? Some of us are blessed with knowing the things that we want to do in this life that we are given and make sure that we life to the fullest. Some of us are too scared to take that leap for fear of what would happen if we played hooky or took the time off to travel when our bank accounts were small. I think that we all will die with a certain amount of regret. I can only hope and pray that mine will be small.

What keeps me smiling through all of this as I try to keep it all lighthearted is a little cartoon that plays itself in my head: it is a cartoon drawing of my grandmother in her white robe, with wings. The light is shining on her from Heaven. Her feet are in the air but her hands are grasping the earth below her - unwilling to go. It's silly, I know, but it makes me smile.

Life life to its fullest, friends. Remember God's grace and that He is with us even when it seems like He is not. Take comfort in the fact that there is a greater place for us all and that He never promised us that it was going to be easy. He never promised that it wouldn't be down-right painful at times. It's a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless. Pray for my Grandma and please pray for our time together. Remember to tell those around you that you love them every day. Remember to tell God that you are thankful for Him and the people that He has placed in your life. Remember to laugh. Remember to cry.

He who dies with the most regrets does not win.

1 comment:

carol at A Second Cup said...

I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma. An honest and touching post.