Grandma imagined a pump of cold, running water in heaven. She told me so as we sat side by side on the couch just before I left for Spain.
“What do you imagine?” she asked.
Heavenly mansions were on our minds, not the frailty of human life.
When I said goodbye, I hugged Grandma and then Grandpa. My voice was still cheerful as I said, “If I don’t see you again here, I’ll see you in a much better place!”
They both smiled.
But I couldn’t control that rush of grief. The memories, joys, sorrows, and love just landed in a heavy heap on my heart. I started to cry.
Like I am now.
Today is Grandma’s funeral and I’m an ocean away.
Grandma spent her whole life quietly serving others. She inspired almost subconscious admiration and love; she was the rock that we all leaned on but sometimes forgot was there. She always had time for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (and even our pets too!).
And yet, she loved to be alone, content to be still while the world marched by. She enjoyed life without needing to partake of all its luxuries, and contentment made her life richer. Her faith in God, her love for others, and her hobbies—collecting, organizing, couponing, gardening, reading— strengthened her for the hard things life threw at her.
On Friday, the hard thing was emergency surgery with very little chance of success. The family was stunned. We knew she was ready to meet her Maker, but we weren’t ready for her to meet her Maker.
And then she was gone. Before most of us had the chance to say goodbye.
It’s as if the book of some of my best memories has closed. No more melting plastic game chips on the threadbare carpet. No more sleepovers on crinkly pillow covers. No more poring over stacks of Berenstain Bear books. No more Keebler cookie snacks. No more tiptoeing around in the forbidden basement with cousins. No more strict “with soap!” hand washings. No more maneuvering the golf cart between the fragile fir trees at the risk of Grandma spotting us from the living room window. No more Grandma stories from when Dad was a little boy. No more of her French silk pie or other outstanding desserts and dishes. No more talks on the couch. No more phone calls or quirky, Grandma-style emails.
Her last email came the middle of October:
“Think I swept my time under the rug and now need to reverse that. All kind of things collect there under that cover up. That’s why some people insist on hardwood floors. Do you have hardwood floors or rugs with secrets?”
Her emails always put a smile on my face, no matter what kind of day I was having. Especially when they ended like this one:
“We don’t sweep love under the rug so you’re safe! Grandpa and Grandma”
On Saturday, I sat on the lonely beach, staring at the sea and trying to swallow the suddenness of her death. There’s just no easy way to say goodbye. No easy way to hurt. Friends from here and there and everywhere have decided to hurt with me and my family. Thank you.
Today we are grieving the loss of a beloved grandmother. And we’re also celebrating Grandma’s gain as she welcomes eternity.
I hope there’s a pump of cold, running water.