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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The First Year's Passing

A year ago yesterday morning, I was planning to make a visit to my grandmother. I have always loved visiting my grandmother, from the time I was a tiny little girl. We lived walking distance from one another on the farm that had been my grandfather’s. I never tired of her sparkly, lively personality, her loud voice, her strong opinions, her sweet, broad smile.

But this was going to be a hard visit. For the third time, I had to bring her hard news, and this time, the worst of the hard news. Not only did her baby girl have cancer. Not only had years of treatments failed to keep that cancer at bay or send it into remission. But this time, I had to tell her that her baby girl wasn’t coming home from the hospital. Her baby girl had only hours left in this world.

I planned to hold her hand, like I had done the other times. I planned to cry with her and talk about our shared hope. Surely there’s no greater evidence of our need for a Savior than seeing a woman say goodbye to her daughter; a daughter say goodbye to her mother. No one with a straight face and an honest heart can call such as that “natural.”

Moments before I left the house—if I remember correctly, I even had my car keys in hand—the phone rang. I would never have to deliver that hard message to my dear grandmother. She wouldn’t have to hear the words that her youngest child was dying. She had eaten her breakfast, leaned back against her pillow, and peacefully slipped into the eternal presence of God without bearing such a burden. She was 100 years old.

I’m sure that I’ve been given many mercies in my life that I haven’t acknowledged, haven’t even recognized as mercy. But this was not one of those situations. It was clearly a gift from the hand of God that both of us were blessed by this timing, spared from the dreadful focus of the now.

My mother passed 36 hours later. I was with her when it happened. For the last several decades, she and Grandmama had done pretty much everything together. We shouldn’t be surprised that they would leave so closely together.

Additional mercies were evident too. Because of my mother’s expected passing, extended family members were already making plans to come in from out of state. God was organizing before we even knew we needed it. My mother had planned no funeral. She did not want attention drawn to herself. But we, her children, needed a memorial service. We needed the togetherness with family and friends. We needed to hear scripture preached (Love never fails). We needed to grieve and remember and acknowledge. And so, in the absence of a funeral for my mother, we gathered for my grandmother, and her memorial covered it all.

God was at work in it all. One day, I may be able to write about the actual time of my mother’s passing. He was at work then too, but for now, it is too deep, too real, too acute, for me to bring it into the light fully.

What is this hope that endures, that stands, even in the face of death upon death? How is it held? Genuine. Genuine faith. “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice (yes, rejoice!), though now for a little while (does it seem like a little while?), if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1: 3-7

The tested genuineness of your faith. The assurance that faith is real. It has been tested, it did not fail, I will be delivered. God knows the state of my faith. Do I? Must I stand trial after trial to prove to him that I love him? No. He knows. He secured me himself. But sometimes, yes, I must stand trial after trial to prove to myself that I love him. Tested genuineness. Hope that does not disappoint.


Tammi T. said...

I can only imagine how difficult it was to write this post. It is difficult to loose a loved one but you had to bear the loss of the two dear ladies in your life so close together. Thanks for being transparent and sharing some of what God has shown you through the pain.

1000 black lines said...

I am so sorry... I didn't know. Thanks for sharing this.