Wednesday, December 28, 2011

we wait.

Advent is over, but we are still waiting.

Not on the Christ-child, but on my grandmother. We are waiting on her to meet the King.

I can hardly believe I am writing that, can hardly believe that it’s true, but those are the words that have kept coming back to me each day in the middle of phone calls and prayers and tears and bated breaths.

While the world has been waiting on the gift of the Son here, I have been waiting for my grandmother to receive the Son there, in a world so great and so mysterious we cannot begin to fathom it.

It has been painful.

Sometimes, Christians make death and grief seem easy, as if we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Heaven comes with streets of gold and mansions with our family’s names engraved on the mailboxes. (My honest hope is that Heaven does not look like that much at all.)

I do not know what sermons you have heard or what doctrines you believe, but I would like you to know: Saying goodbye is never easy.

The pain and confusion and sadness my family has endured this week have been excruciating. All of a sudden, 93 years does not seem like long enough, and we are not ready to say goodbye.

This Christmas, anticipating my grandmother’s homecoming has been just as important as celebrating the Christ’s birth. I hope that is not sacrilegious to say, because it is true.

This is a season.

These days are painful, but they are necessary.

We will look back and see His hands moving in all kinds of unusual ways. We will see His words in the doctor’s frequent visits and the strangers’ prayers. We will treasure the time spent gathered around a hospital bed, the time spent devoted to maintaining old holiday traditions and creating new ones. We will say whispered thank yous for the gift of family, and we will know — perhaps not now, but later — all is still grace.

It doesn’t always feel like it.

The God I serve does not always answer my prayers how I want or when I want. His ways are nothing like my own, and so our waiting has felt prolonged.

I am coming to terms with that.

Every day, I tell my mother: One day at a time.

Every day, I am repeating those words to myself.

My emotions are so confused, so twisted. I find myself crying in prayer, then laughing at shared memories and funny board games.

My words are not coming out like I want them to. This post has taken me far too long to write, and once it is written, I’m not confident it will at all say what I want it to say. (Because how do you write about pain? About the grief that comes before the death, not after?)

But that’s okay.

This is a season. And it is just as important as the last, just as important as the one that waits behind the curtain.

These days do not look like the days of Decembers past. I have cancelled my plans to attend a dear friend’s wedding out of state; a sequined top (I know; I caved) will remain unworn in my closet.

And that, this year, is how it should be.

The grieving moments are as important as the celebratory ones.

The memories and the tears will mingle together, and that is as it should be too.

In these days, I will treasure my family. I will treasure my name. I will treasure the thought that when my grandmother’s body leaves this life, she, quite simply, will not.

Her influence, her legacy is far too great.

Death will not overcome her. She will just arrive home a little earlier than the rest of us.

She will make it beautiful, and it will be her turn to wait. This time, for us.

I suspect her waiting will not be nearly as long or as painful as our own. This time, she will be waiting with the King.


Laken said...

Oh, Annie. I am so sorry for the pain and grieving that you and your family is already going through - and that you will go through. All I can say is that I'm praying.

Lauren said...

I'm praying for you and your family as well Annie - It is so, so, so hard.

I wrote a blog post myself when I was going through this last year with my Grandma. You can skip over everything, but the poem at the end is good and gave me hope during a time in which hope was hard to remember.

Syd said...

This is beautifully written. Loss is so very hard. But you are right, it is part of the process. It is necessary. But however necessary it is, I can't imagine going through it without faith, without hope, without an understanding of what comes next, without the support of our Savior. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

Sabrina said...

Know that with teary eyes and a heavy heart I read your post. The only two things I know through personal experience are to cling to God and your family...they will get you through. I love you and your dear family Annie. Your grandmother need never ever worry, for her spirit lives on loud and clear in the lives of her children and grandchildren. And praise God above for that. Romans 11:33- Oh the depths and the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable are His judgements
and His ways past finding out.

Megan Elizabeth said...

I'm praying for you and your family Annie. I know this must be so difficult.

brie. said...

three years ago my grandfather stood on the edge of death over christmas. he died on new year's eve. it is a strange time to lose loved ones. it jolts you out of the normal christmas season - and yet i wonder if that pain and confusion and moment-by-moment grace isn't a more truthful advent? i imagine the holy family felt very lost and confused and alone on these nights as well. praying for your family and that she is soon with jesus.

Julie said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry for your pain.


MichaelaRae said...

Beautiful and real - those words come to mind reading this post. I'm praying for you and your family!

Hannah said...

It is so hard, and when it's over, it's not over. The sting of grief is sure to linger. Praying for you often, Annie.