Saturday, April 3, 2010

Last Rites

I found out today that the priest from Grannie's church came and read the Last Rites.

Last Rites. Last Rites. Last Rites.  Last.  Rites.

This is really going to happen, isn't it?

I was taking a shower earlier and thought about how we'd drive up to her house when we arrived for the funeral.  All I could envision was her running out the front door upon hearing our friendly honk, arms outstretched, waiting to envelope us in ever-sweet grandmotherly love.  Sadly, she will never run again on this earth.  Sadly, I will not feel her arms around me or see her embrace my children.

Tonight, I was scanning in decades of pictures so we could make a slideshow for the reception at the funeral.  I couldn't get over her smile in so many of the photographs.  Just abundant joy.  Pure, unadulterated joy.  She didn't have an easy life.  Her husband died unexpectedly after only nine years of marriage, leaving her with two little boys to raise on her own.  She has taken care of so many of her family members - physically, emotionally, spiritually.  She has had breast cancer, lung cancer, and now cancer throughout her body.  It has not been a pain-free life by any stretch of imagination.

Yet, she smiled, even laughed, bravely through it all.  Pure joy.

Right now, she is still alive, but the hospice nurse says that she would be surprised if she makes it though the weekend.  As much as my heart is heavy (and this is a huge understatement), there is a just a touch of me that slightly smiles at the possibility of her dying on Easter Sunday.  A day when death has been defied.  A reminder that I will see her again -- pain-free, running to me with arms open-wide.  Abundant joy.

I pulled out my Book of Common Prayer (I am an Episcopalian) to read through the ministrations to the sick and at the time of death.  I am not sure exactly which prayers the priest used today, but I am fairly certain A Prayer for a Person Near Death must have been said.

Almighty God, look on this your servant, lying in great weakness, and comfort her with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Oh, her body is weak.  And, oh, I know she is ready to go home.

I think this is one of those situations in life where I know I am going to survive this, but I am just not sure how.  I can see the tsunami heading straight towards me and all I can do is stare at it in fear.

It is so big.  It is so powerful.  It blocks out the sun.
 
On the other hand, I know my God calms the sea.  I can feel Him tempering my grief -- it threatens to crush me, but He is my strength.  The road ahead will be hard, steep, and long, but He is my rod and my staff.  He will comfort me.

Grannie and me at Sea World (1981).
Grannie is on the bottom right in this picture (1980).
                                            

3 comments :

  1. May you find joy in memories and peace during this time. My grandma, an incredible woman, passed away several years ago and I still miss her incredibly. What I've realized is that the fact is, she left an incredible legacy. I can only hope to leave one half as meaningful as hers. Sounds like your Grannie will be leaving a great legacy, too.

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  2. I have a copy of that same picture!...all the sisters, Nonnie, and Uncle Billy...makes me teary eyed sometimes seeing how young they all look here.

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  3. As I was praying for you and for her last week, I was also thinking how it would be fitting for her to die on Easter. The Lord told me she would. I am sorry, as I know how much you are grieving, but she is home now. She is not in pain and not suffering anymore. She is with her husband. She is with Jesus. She went home on such a joyful day, the day Jesus suffered and died for us. Grannie's body is gone, but she still lives in you, just as Jesus lives in us all. You will keep her spirit alive, and pass that spirit on to your girls.

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