Eleven years ago this past July my grampa went to heaven. With my gramma's recent passing, I am thinking about the differences between these two events in my life. I am mildly alarmed to find I do not remember all that much about my grampa's death. It seems, given my closeness to him, that every moment should be etched in my memory. I can't even remember what I wore to his funeral! This may seem inconsequential to you in the consideration of your grandfather's funeral but in this family, we mark life by fashion and good hair days. Deal with it.
I made a little list in my head of what I remember. I was heavier then. I had not yet returned to nursing school. Daboyz were seven and eight years old. I wrote a poem. All of my grampa's ties had food stains on them. That's pretty much it. Who sang at the funeral? What was said in the eulogy? Who was there, who were the pall bearers? And again, WHAT DID I WEAR?
In eleven years, what will I remember about my gramma's passing?
I will remember that her death was soft. It was what I asked for. I will remember my mom's absolute determination about how to care for my grandmother in her final days and it being exactly right. I will remember spending the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at my gramma's house with my mom, my gramma's first night home from the hospital before the hospice nurse had come. It was not a pretty sight. My gramma was fine, it was her daughter and granddaughter that seemed to be trapped in a Marx Brother's film.
Why can't I remember the details of my grandfather's funeral? Honestly, I think it just does not matter. Funerals are for the living and not for the dead. I did not need his funeral to complete my relationship with him so I think I simply attended but found the memories created in my life with him were much more interesting.
I think also, my attention had turned naturally to my gramma. She was the widow, the surviving grandparent. I do remember worrying over her future and trying to keep an eye on her. Maybe this was a preoccupation that trumped the choice of hymns we sang?
I know that I am a different person today than eleven years ago. I was not unhappy then but I am happier yet today. I know that the passage of time requires me to examine not just the life of the deceased but my own life. I am grateful that I can see progress in myself since 1996. I am more forgiving and less critical (yes I am!) I am happy that I am thinner than I was then and that I completed school. I am thankful that I have now been married 21 years even though there were days when I doubted we'd make it. I have learned to speak publicly and been allowed to share Jesus. I followed the Lord's leading to a new church and it was the right decision. I saw my sons graduate high school with honors.
I know Jesus better.
I am kinder to myself. I am hungry for God. I believe I am forgiven, redeemed and loved by my Creator. I accept the love of my friends with joy and gratitude. I go out in public without mascara.
You might wonder if I'm bragging. Rest assured, I am not. I have far to go. But what is different is that I have learned to look at life as a progressive thing. I do not need to find perfection today, but I want to look at eleven years gone by and see change. I want to have done the things I know need doing. I want to have hugged hard and been hugged. I want to have laughed myself snotty, sung karaoke and danced with my co-workers to Christmas music. Check, check, check.
I want to have told my boys I love them and still held their hands and kissed their faces like when they were babies. Check, check.
I want to look across the room at my husband and rejoice that this man loves me. Check.
I don't know where I will be in eleven years from now. How many more funerals will I have attended? I know, we dread to consider it. This I know, God and He alone has been the bringer of good things and the maker of joy to me. He stood with me eleven years ago, stands with me today and will stand with me in 2018.
I want to be different then. It is the work of being redeemed that promises that I will be.
1 Samuel 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
P.S. On the day of my gramma's funeral, I wore a black sweater and black pin-striped slacks. I am growing out my bangs so there is no good hair day. But my accessories were fabulous, gray pearls on a cranberry ribbon. Make a note, there will be a test later.