I really don’t know how to write this post.
That sentence, along with the salty drops that are stinging my already bloodshot, sunken eyes makes me seriously question whether I should write this post…
When initially setting up this blog (a college course assignment), my writing professor strongly cautioned against cathartic blog posts. It might feel good, might even bring a sense of healing… but that kind of writing is generally meant for a personal journal or the therapy session, not the world wide web.
Well I guess I’m sort of breaking that rule with this one.
On Thursday evening my Gramma Lolo passed away.
How does one follow that sentence? What am I supposed to write after it? What is there to write? It’s not really a sentence. It’s a statement. A pronouncement. Seemingly, it’s the ultimate period. And why do we use the term “passed away?” What does that even mean? Away to what? It can sound so hopeless. So futile.
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field… the grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of God stands forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:6b, 8.
As I write this I’m sitting on the couch in my apartment listening to the big fat raindrops bang on the metal balconies of the building next door with an occasional sunburst sneaking through the clouds – nothing out of the ordinary for a spring Saturday in Seattle. And yet I find this bi-polar weather very much mimics my emotions.
Grief is an odd thing.
I know I shouldn’t be sad. In fact I want to rejoice! My Gramma Lolo has not “passed away” into some dark empty void. On the contrary she has entered into the kingdom of light. She has been raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms, to the place that He has specifically prepared for her, so that she might be with Him. Now this makes me tear up!
She is now clothed with the imperishable and immortal – with her heavenly dwelling. She has a new body and is no longer held hostage in the withering shell that has confined her for so long. She has been set free. She has finally gone home. She is sharing in the joy and happiness of her Master and Creator.
For those of you who don’t know my Gramma Lolo (my mom’s mom), was a resident of St. John’s Nursing Home in Billings, MT for 37 years. She was a sweet, petite yet incredibly strong woman who loved Jesus, loved her family, and loved to sing. When she was pregnant with her fourth child she suffered pre-eclampsia which resulted in a major brain hemorrhage. The baby died and she was left severely debilitated. (In layman’s terms think Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey, only my Gramma survived and the baby did not.) My Grandpa cared for her for 8 years but it became too difficult for him with 3 children and so she was placed at St. John’s Nursing Home and that has been her home ever since.
It’s hard to describe Gramma Lolo to people who’ve never met her. While the “accident” as we like to call it, left her verbally and physically challenged, when you spoke with her or visited with her it was clear that all her mental faculties were very much intact. She knew what was going on. You could see it in her big beautiful green eyes. And I found that that only seemed to increase over the last few years when I visited with her.
Not only that but her joyful spirit, love of music and love of Jesus have always been her hallmark. Everyone, I mean everyone at St. John’s knew Lolo. They knew her cute little laugh and her sweet voice that was often humming a tune or hymn. I think she’d learned the secret of being content in every situation.
The last time mom and I visited her was a little over a month ago. We’d spent a week with her and on our last day, Sunday, we had a small worship service in her room. Gramma was laying on her bed coming in and out of sleep, but as mom read this passage from 2 Corinthians I saw her eyes open as she drank it in:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” …
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
This is who my Gramma Lolo was. A beautiful jar of clay. She carried around with her the death of Jesus so that His life might be revealed in her. She taught me and so many about long-suffering and that it is possible to rejoice in all circumstances – to consider trials pure joy, fixing her eyes and her heart on worshiping her Lord and Savior. And now she is with Him. He has brought her faith to completion. She is made new.
Death is not the “ultimate period” for God. It wasn’t for my Gramma Lolo and it won’t be for me. And I’m so very excited to see her there in Heaven. I can’t wait to talk with her and dance for her. I can’t wait to see how God used her over the past 37 years to fulfill His purpose in and through her. A mystery only He can and I’m sure will reveal some day.
Death does not have to be the “ultimate period” for you too…
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Do you believe this? I pray and hope you do!