I’ve always thought of my family as one of the great, ancient lights in an ever-darkening world. My grandparents raised children and grandchildren to have a special sense of the value of family. Last night, my grandmother, my Meme, began hospice care. I’m feeling all over again the love and security God has given us through hers and Gan’s faithfulness. I have said it many times over the years: there is a special shield over our clan, protecting us not from all sadness, but from the worst kinds–the kinds that come from giving up, refusing to return to Christ, and not seeking to live by the law of His love. I understand now more than ever that what the Bible says is true: God blesses generations for the righteousness of their ancestors. Mine, my brother’s, and our descendants’ lives are enriched and empowered by the strength of my grandfather and the quiet, prayerful, faith-born power of my grandmother, the kindest woman who has ever lived.
Today, I’ve felt the weight of the Fall like never before. Watching her struggle, I’m thinking, Death is a really bad thing. The worst thing. I’m comforting her, and all I want is just to be a little boy again and let her comfort me. We did this. THIS is what our sin brought on. It feels unspeakably wretched and dark.
Yet, I’ve thought about cooking in the kitchen with her, painting a ladybug paperweight, listening to her sing “How Much is That Doggy in the Window, (Woof! Woof!)” and learning to wash my hands. Taking baths. Eating meals. Her comforting us in the back room when my cousin, Jace died. I got to have “Sprite and Ice Cream” at Meme’s and Gan’s for probably the last time while she’s alive. Not one of those memories is tinged with bitterness at losing her. The Lord is faithful, and He is giving me a powerful peace in all of this that truly overwhelms the sense of how terrible this loss is. All is as it was meant to be. All is safe and good, even when it is very painful.
She’s always seen things that way. Thank You, Lord, for her example.
And the strange, beautiful, blessed thing is: the story’s not over. It didn’t end with sin. It ended with the Cross. And the next chapter–the longest one, the forever one–begins with the empty grave. This isn’t a story I have to tell myself over and over, trying to get myself to believe it so I can have some comfort. Nor is this a moment I’m taking to push an agenda callously so I can win some brownie points with God. It is the triumphant roar of a voice so bright and pure it cannot help but sing from within me. It is the sure, steady heartbeat of the world, firmer than the mountains, mightier than the sea. It is more deeply woven into the fabric of the Universe than the laws that govern time and space. We were made to be redeemed. To be reclaimed. To live, to die, and to be resurrected never to die again. That truth is woven deep within each one of us, and if we listen, we can hear it resonate.
The most powerful memory of this time will be when she woke up today, and Gan was holding her and telling her what a perfect wife she’s been, speaking truth unashamedly, as he always does–the truth of who she is, how blessed and special and wonderful she is–, our family standing around her, the Holy Spirit filling us with strength and peace multiplied a million-fold through our unity. Oh, the power of that moment. Together. Always together. Because that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be done.
I do not fear death. I weep at it, but I also laugh at it the way one laughs at fearsome thunder, or the coming of a great battle that will be braved and won. It is only a rumbling. It will not last. I wait patiently for resurrection.