I’ve been out of town for awhile.
I got to spend time with my sisters. All of them. I have four.
I only cooked hot breakfast cereal. Everything else was either prepared or paid for by someone else.
I saw uncles, aunts, cousins. People that knew me when I was that awkward kid nobody really knew what to do with.
But then we went to a funeral.
My Grandma Paula was one of those people that everyone seemed to know. All you had to do was say you were one of her grandkids, and they’d launch into stories of how much they love her, how much she helped or inspired them. How much they’ll miss her now that she’s gone.
The most impressive thing about my grandmother has everything to do with the people around her. She loved to cook, she loved to listen and she loved to laugh. That perfect trifecta made her the best friend of everyone. She led a full life of happiness, warmth, comfort and faith. She entered the next life surrounded by so much love. Her only regret was that she didn’t make it to her 75th birthday–not that she didn’t have a big enough house or a nicer car. She just wanted more time to enjoy the life she already had. The fortune she left us with is the inspiration to lead a happy life surrounded by those you love. How much more simple/complicated could it get?
I regret not spending more time with her. I’m sure she knew I loved her, but I hope she also knew how much I appreciated and respected her. Still do. I will forever be in awe of that woman. While I sat with her in her hospital room, it was hard for her to open her eyes, but she was still smiling. She knew that it was her time to go, and she was so happy that everyone dropped what they were doing to come and be with her on that “holy day”–her words. She didn’t think she was about to become a saint or anything, but she did know that soon she’d be resting comfortably in the arms of her Maker. That’s what happens when you live your life honestly, openly and full of compassion. You don’t fear death. It was painful, but incredible to watch.
I am so fortunate to have a family that will descend upon a hospital room to hold their wife/mother/grandmother/friend’s hand when she calls. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such an amazing support system. People who know exactly what it meant to know her. And who know what it means to lose her. Nothing on earth can compete with the intense love of family. Despite any differences that we may have, love will always bind us together. And she was a huge source of that love.
Some of the things that stuck with me from the multitude of lovely things said at her vigil are these: “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved,” and “Life has been changed, not ended.” What better way to sum up how we’re all feeling right now? The forward motion of life continues, even after a loss as great as my Grandma.
We love her, we miss her, and we’ll do everything in our power to live by her example.