The Gift of Goodbye
As some of you may know, My grandma’s health had been declining over the last 6 months or so and on June 24th, 2011 she went home to be with Jesus. I was thinking what a precious gift I had in that I was able to spend a week with her in May. When we left it was hard knowing that would most likely be the last time I saw her here. But I got to hug her and tell her I loved her and squeeze her hand and talk about whatever we wanted because we were trying to prepare ourselves the best we could for her home going.
When my cousin called me at 6:30 am that morning (I think we all know that I was not awake at that time) she said Grandma’s gone. As I wearily sat up in bed to face the day, one of the many gospel songs we sang together on my last trip to see her came in to mind “ I want to stroll over heaven with you some glad day, where all our troubles and heartaches are vanished away, then we’ll enjoy the beauty where all things are new, I want to stroll over heaven with you.”
It was with sadness because she is no longer here with us to talk to and give hugs and watch tv and play games. But also with joy to know someday I will see her again in a place where all things are new and there are no more troubles and heartaches!! “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, When I look upon his face, the one who saved my by his grace! When he takes me by the hand and leads me through the promised land What a day, Glorious Day that will be!!” That’s another one I sang to her. We sang all the songs about heaven and Jesus that I could think of! And she would say “oh that was a pretty one. I really liked that one.”
A few weeks later, as we laid her earthly remains to rest in Alva, OK next to my Grandpa, her husband of over 50 years, we shared memories of a long and happy life. We sang Because He lives, What a Friend We Have in Jesus (one of her favorites) and What a Day That Will Be. We enjoyed the time of togetherness with our big family. All the brothers, sisters and most of the cousin were able to come in and we had a great time celebrating her life and doing things she loved to do. I think she would have been so happy to see us all together. When we all headed back to our lives after the weekend, we hugged, promised to get together again sometime, and talked about how good it was to see each other. We didn’t know that 1 week from my Grandma’s funeral one of us would be in eternity.
We got the call on Saturday night from my Uncle. His son, our cousin, had taken his own life at the age of 19. "Why would he do that?" Is all I could think as I cried about his senseless loss of life and the nightmare that now would engulf his parents, family and friends. One you wish you could just wake up from…but you don’t. How does someone get to that point? We just saw him a week ago and spent time together and everything seemed fine…but I guess it wasn’t. And now he’s gone. No time for goodbyes. Just here one day and gone the next.
We just finished celebrating the 87 years my Grandma had filled with so much life and experience and now we would be mourning the loss of a life cut short. Is there something we could have said? Is there something we could have done? We’ll never know and also it wouldn’t change a thing. But that doesn’t keep us from wondering.
I was talking to one of my cousins after the service and he said something good. That all the things he was worried about on the earth and the state of mind he was in then….He’s not thinking the same way now…he is looking from eternity. It is sad that he couldn’t see all the people he had around him that loved and cared. To have felt so alone and not have reached out. Many of his friends described him as being the encourager and the listener who helped them through tough times and encouraged them not to give up. That he helped people and took in all their problems, but when he had problems he didn’t take care of himself and seek the help he had given to so many. That he desired to be with Jesus so much more than he did to stay here amidst his troubles. I always ran into him at Wal-mart. That is where we did all our catching up. I’ve been to Wal-mart twice this week…I won’t see him there anymore.
Friday night after his service, as the day was nearing an end, we gathered outside with our helium filled balloons and sharpies. We each got to write a note to him – something we wanted to say but didn’t get the chance. We all let them go together and watched them as they drifted toward the heavens until we lost sight of them in the clouds. It was a wonderful idea and as my balloon was floating away I felt something like...letting go – saying Goodbye.
With Love Until We Meet Again,