I wasn’t able to write as much as I’d wanted to through the course of Lent, but I found myself hearing from God more than I’d expected. In each reading, each prayer, I kept rediscovering the depth of His love and an invitation to trust Him. I don’t think I was quite prepared to so quickly need to hold on to these discoveries. And, although I usually try not to write too terribly personally, I felt writing may help the process.
Unfortunately, toward the middle of March, my grandmother became quickly, and severely, ill. At first, I held on to hope that she would quickly recover and be back to her fiesty self. When it became clearer that that may not happen, I made the trip up to be with her and spend time with her. Though hospice had come in, and she wasn’t able to communicate clearly to us, I told her of all the love I held in my heart for her and with each squeeze of her hand, I was reassured she understood.
I had to leave her side to travel for a work conference. I made it through the first days OK, granted I held a heavy heart. But, one afternoon I felt the need to run up to my room between sessions and just rest. While I looked out the window toward the ocean, I found myself saying out loud “Grandma, I love you so much”. . But meanwhile thinking, I know she can’t hear me all the way from her house, how silly of me. Yet, I felt this deep emptiness and just started crying and missing her.. Shortly after, I talked to my mom and learned that was just about exactly the time Grandma left us.
I believe deeply in the bonds of family, of love felt mutually between souls, and I know I can look to the sky now any time and talk to her. And for that I’m grateful. Through grief, I feel sad, and sometimes angry. I remember feeling angry as I drove to see her, seeing springtime coming to us yet knowing she may not be here to see it. But as I reflect on what I discovered throughout lent, I know that there is pure love and no pain where she is now. And, God can handle my sorrow and occasional angriness, in fact I think he invites us to express it so he can heal it.
I am thankful that because of this particular Lenten season, because of the hope Easter offers, because of the resurrection of Christ, the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of God’s grace through faith in Him, I will see her again. I’m grateful that I’ve been invited to follow Jesus where he may go, to live an abundant life in the here and now, and to depend on God on the path I am walking.
Easter has always been second to none, my grandmother’s favorite holiday. This year, it holds a deeper meaning to me. This year, I find the substance and the holiness of its truth and the hope of a new heaven and a new earth, where there is no more pain, sorrow or injustice. In past years, though I grasped the Easter message and understood Christ’s sacrifice and the hope of life everlasting, this year I find myself really living into that hope.
One of the very last things I told her, was that I was thankful for the love of gardening and nature that she instilled into me from a young age. I promised her that this year I would plant a hydrangea, one of she and I’s favorite flowers and help it to grow for her. She nodded “yes”, and that was all I needed. Last summer I made a bouquet from the flowers in front of her house and brought them in, and she just kept telling me how beautiful they were. So, this year I hope to make the flowers grow just as beautifully as her life and faith grew and flourished for our whole family. In the meantime I hold the love and happiness she gave me in my heart and carry her memory with me always, knowing that because of Easter, death no longer has the final say.
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth, or falsehood, becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound, as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But, suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” -CS Lewis, A Grief Observed