Sunday, February 1, 2009

In Memorium

Yesterday was January 31st, 2009. 2009... it seems so impossible that it's been two years. Two years since 2007.

I almost can't believe that it's been that long already. It seems like just yesterday that I spent three hours talking on the phone about babies with her. About wanting them. Loving them. And not having them. It seems like it was no more than a couple weeks ago that I brought home my new friend Derek for her to meet. Maybe a month since I told her, with some fear and trembling, that I was not going to go to medical school. That I was sure God had a different plan for my life.

It feels like it was just last night that my dad came to church to tell us. It seems like I haven't caught my breath yet, like the grief is still new and suffocating. Like my knees, if I stand, won't hold me. I almost expect someone to call and find out how we are. Find out how Grampa is. To ask about funeral arrangements.


It seems like so much longer than two years. I don't remember the sound of her laugh. Her voice comes and goes in my head. Her face is blurred with the effects that time has on memories. Life seems so... normal... without her. And that couldn't happen in just two years, could it?

There is so much I want to say about her. To shout, to whisper, to find a way to share with the world. But I don't even know where to start. There are some things I'd like to say to her. I had thought about making this just part of my personal journal. However, I want to be someone that lets others see her. I want the pain I feel to be visible, so the world will see God as He comforts me. So I will share this with you.


Yesterday, I woke up and forgot what day it was. I remembered a week ago. I knew three days ago. I knew it was your day. Your Heaven Day. And I expected it to be like last year. Bitter. Raw. Sad. With just a hint of joy on your behalf, a hint of envy on mine, and a flood of comfort from the Holy Spirit. But I forgot. I woke up. Our friend Karl came over to help us work on the house. You remember him, right? You always said he was "a very nice young man." He and his wife called you Gramma. They still call Grampa, Grampa. And they've stood by him. I'm getting off track. We worked until about 3:30. That's when I remembered. I don't know how I forgot that long. And then, I got distracted again. Working with Derek and Jim. I feel guilty for not having spent the day remembering. For not seeing Grampa. And for being relieved that it was, on the whole, so... easy.

Today, as I start my third year without you, there's so much I wish I could share with you. And oh, how I wish you were here. There are things inside of me right now that I know you would understand. I wouldn't need to find words to say them - I could just look at you, and you'd know. I miss that - feeling like there was someone here who really, truly, got it. I wish I could ask you how to help my husband through this difficult time. I want someone who can tell me that they've "been there" and it will get better. If you were here, I'd share with you this battle I'm waging. This internal war that is taking most of my strength.

There is so much beauty I've seen in the last two years, Gramma. Amazing sunsets. Being so close to eagles that I can see the cracks in the skin on their feet. Holding a living, breathing answer to years of prayer. Frost that coats each individual needle on the pine trees outside. There are three moments that stand out, though. Moments when I felt almost as if you were there with me. Moments that happened because of you.

One was about a month after you died. I was walking on a trail. It was cold, windy. Snowing just a little. I was praying. I didn't have the strength inside to cry out to God. It was more of a desperate whisper. Please, God. Show me that you're here. That you care. I know you are, but today, just now, I need to be reminded. I heard the sound of a twig snapping. I looked around, and saw a flash of red in the bushes. As the cardinal found his way to the highest branch, I was transported to that winter morning on the way to church. The one you used to talk about all the time. When he (the cardinal) started to sing, peace flooded my soul. A still, quiet voice whispered to my heart. "I am with you. Always."

The second moment was a few months later. It was May, and I was running on empty. Empty heart, empty mind, empty emotions. I had been planning to take you to see the whooping cranes where they stop for several weeks each spring. I went without you. I stood on top of an observation tower, straining to hear just a hint of that wild sound. I was nearly in tears when I realized I wasn't going to see them.

I was getting ready to leave, still empty, when I noticed a strange feeling in the air. I stayed to watch a spectacular early-spring storm roll in across miles and miles of marsh. Wind shook the tower. Thunder rattled the ground. I spread my arms and looked to the heavens. And that still, small voice spoke. "I am here, too. I am with you. Always. I love you. I am bigger than this storm." I drove home full that day. Full, not of happiness or excitement, and not full of the thrill of seeing those wild creatures. But full of peace. Full of love. Full, knowing I was not alone.

The final moment? I'd spent weeks wishing I could just do something to feel close to you. Something that we could have shared, that would remind me. We were in church, and we were singing a new song. As we sang through the chorus a second time, I stopped. I listened. And in my heart, in my mind, I could see you. I could see you standing there, arms open wide, worshipping our God. Our God. I could see you doing what that song said - living to love Him, to bring Him praise. That is the one thing I can do, today, right now, with you. I can worship my God. I can love Him. I can bring Him praise. And I can live.

You see, in so many ways, you are "dead." Your body was put in a casket, covered with earth. Grampa had a beautiful stone put in place to mark the spot. None of us can touch you, see you, or hear you. Your feet are no longer pacing the floors while prayer streams from your mouth. Nobody is sitting on the heat register talking on the phone. I'd give almost anything for a "Gramma hug." But really, you are not dead.

You are alive. You are so very, completely alive. You are more alive now than you ever were here. You have a perfect body. You know Him as you are known. You can dance. Run. Sing. You have no pain. You have seen Him face to face. You know my daughter. My other children. You know my sister. I don't. I can't, not here. Not yet. But you, oh how blessed you truely are. To be so alive.

And so, that is something else I can do with you. I can live. I have so may choices left to make in this life. But the biggest, most important, I have already made. I choose life. I choose to live for my King. I choose to worship Him, praise Him, glorify Him. I choose to serve Him. To give Him all of me for as long as I have left on this earth, and for eternity after that.

And so, knowing that you have made the same choice, and knowing that you are doing it even now, this very instant, I will live.

I love you, Gramma.


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