This morning I woke up at about 5am, and absolutely could not stop tossing and turning, which is extremely atypical for me. Something felt very wrong. I got up and shuffled about the house a bit, used the bathroom, and tried going back to bed, but it didn't do any good. I didn't manage to get back to sleep until about 7am. I got up, and went over to vote. After I got back, I saw that my phone had messages. I had an urgent one from my dad from about 6am. I hadn't heard when they called.
My great grandmother died at 5:30 this morning. After finding that out, it makes me wonder again exactly what all dimensions are involved in our connections to one another in this world. Perhaps it was coincidence that I was tossing and turning while she was dying, and perhaps it wasn't. I'll never be able to prove one way or the other. Come to think of it, I'm going to add that to my list of questions for God. Is our connection to the people we love more than just emotions and occasional physical contact? Is there some deeper connection?
But that's not really my concern right now. I lost Ma today. I lost Pappa, her husband, back in July of 1991. That was my first experience with death, and sometimes I still get teary eyed thinking about how badly that hurt. In fact, a few months ago my emotions resurfaced in a way that caught me off guard, and I wept for nearly half an hour. Love for family runs deep. When I was born, 1 of my great great grandparents was living, 6 of my great-grandparents were living, and all of my grandparents. I still have all of my grandparents, but Ma was the last of my greats. Considering that I'm 27, I feel rather fortunate to have known so many of my ancestors when many people never even meet their grandparents.
Ma was always gushing forth praise and encouragement. Just a few weeks ago, Carolina and I had stopped by to see her at the nursing home where she's been staying, and she told me how proud she is of me, and how if Papa were still around, he would be proud of me, too. I'm proud to have been her grandson. One of my best memories of her was when I was about 5 years old and I had a little football from an Antioch High School football game at her house. She was in her late 60's/early 70's and she grabbed my football, took off running and challenged me to catch her. Until fairly recently, she was still in very good physical condition.
She was always meticulous about her yard and her home. Probably a little too much. Our joke was always that she kept even her toilet seats so clean you could eat off of them if you had wanted to. She always kept orange cream Popsicles and various hard candy around her house. She had a weakness for candy. She had turned 90 a few weeks ago, and I think she had 1 tooth left. There's plenty I'll miss about her.
So now, I am reminded again of how much my faith means to me. She was a Christian. The only hope I have of seeing her again is in believing what I'm taught in Scripture that one day she'll receive a renewed body without the frailties of old age. I'll see her again. I'll see Papa again. Who knows how many years I have to go until then? Perhaps all the time I have to wait in between will make our meeting that much sweeter.
I wish I hadn't lived so far away for the last 7 years. At the same time, she was proud of what I've been doing with my life, and I know that more than anything, she wants me to be a Christian and to encourage others to do the same.
So for now: Ma, I love you. I will miss you. I'll try to learn from your example how important it is to place a high priority on loving other people, and sharing my blessings with those around me. When I take communion this Sunday, I'll remember that one day, we'll all gather at the great feast of the Lord, and we'll be at peace. You wanted to go home, and God has given you rest.
(And to borrow your favorite salutation, from every birthday/Christmas/graduation/wedding card you ever gave me:)
"All my love",