Monday, April 23, 2012

What if?

I remember the day as if it were yesterday.  I was 9 years old and my Grandmother was reading verses from the bible to me, something she did often when I spent time visiting her in Michigan.  I interrupted her, something I did often and still do (working on that by the way, smile) to ask her a question troubling me for some time.

"Gramma, can I ask you a question?"

My Gramms smiled and replied...

"Yes, honey"

Unsure of my words I continued...

"Gramma, what if you live your whole life following all these rules in this book and when you die you find out there is no God"

She sat a moment thinking and then a big smile came to her face as she said...

"Well honey, I will have lived my life without lying, stealing or cheating so what have I lost"

Since I couldn't think of one single thing she would lose I decided that moment that I too wanted to live my life not lying, stealing or cheating.  She sat smiling at me while I said...

"Gramma, when you die can I have your bible?"

"Yes honey, you sure can!"

I went to visit my Gramms on her last birthday here on earth in October of 2007.  The long flight to Michigan was very uncomfortable for a couple of reasons.  For one they make the seats on the airplanes for skinny people, not that they favor skinny people they favor making money and make more with more seats therefor us biggins get the short end of the seat.  While sitting in that little seat for 9 hours looking out the window I thought to myself about all the years I went to visit my grandmother on flights like these, I remembered the flight attendants being so nice to me and how excited I would be every time I got to go spend time with her.  This trip was different, it was my last trip to see her and I was scared.  I wanted to see her so badly but I was afraid of how I would feel, how she would look, I expected everyone to be sad and me to be sad as well.

My Aunt Mary Ellen picked me up at the airport and we drove to her beautiful home where I got settled in and enjoyed catching up with her after more than 10 years since my last visit.  We woke early to go to Gramms trailer.

My Gramms was always up before the sun, I wanted to enjoy every part of the day with her on our first day together.  She was awake and waiting with my Aunt Terry for me.  As we pulled into the parking space I saw her through the window, so tiny she was.  My Gramms was always a big woman too, seeing her so little was a shock to me.

I walked into her trailer expecting to see a sad scared face preparing to die.  Instead I saw a bright smile full of love and excitement to see me.  I hugged her gently as she put her frail hands on my face and said...

"Oh Lelania, look at your beautiful face, you look just like an Angel.  I was waiting for you, I love you so much honey!"

I fought back tears and held her a moment, feeling her in my arms brought back so many memories of all the hugs, all the love, all that she was to me in my life was present at that moment and at that moment I was safe in my Gramma's arms again.  I spent the week in Michigan, a few days at my Aunt Mary Ellen's and a few nights at my Uncle Mike's.  Every day I spent at my Gramma's trailer with her eating tomato bisque soup and grilled cheese sandwiches my Aunt Terry prepared for us.  My Gramms barely eating any.  All of our family came and went through out the day, it was so heart warming to see them all.

Through all of this I sat in amazement of how My Gramms kept the most serene smile upon her face.  I remember on day three hospice was there bandaging her legs.  My now tiny little Gramms sat on the edge of her bed smiling and said...

"I just love the Hospice people, aren't they the greatest". 

I later said to my Uncle Keith...  "Who says that"  I mean hospice is there to help you die, how come my Gramms loved them when they were there to help her die.

I was given the answer the very next morning when me and Gramms were alone.

She said she had a present for me, something she wanted me to have.  I told her she didn't need to give me anything it was her birthday week after all.  She bid me wait while My Aunt Terry went and fetched her bible.  The very same bible she read to me out of over the years.  As she unzipped the leather case that has her name inscribed on it in gold letters she asked me if I remembered the day I asked her if I could have her bible when she died, I said yes as I remembered that day very clearly.

It was a day that I could never forget the day I learned that if we don't lie cheat or steal we have lost nothing.  She handed me her bible and said...

"Honey, this is your bible now, cherish is always as I always cherished you".

Tears welled up in my eyes as I opened her bible and read the words written inside that read...

"This Bible promised to my granddaughter Lelania in 1978, I love her so much.  Gramma"

My Gramma and Aunt Terry's verses are written on the other side, my verse is Romans 5:3

I couldn't believe she wrote in her bible the day I asked her for it.  I sat staring at those words in awe thinking wow they have been there all these years.  She has read to me from this bible so many times since then and never once told me of these written words, she saved them for today.  And how perfect that she did.

I said "Gramms, how were you able to keep this from me all these years?  I would never have been able to keep a surprise that long"

with tears in my eyes I laughed.  I was that kid who unwrapped all the presents on Christmas Eve and rewrapped them before anyone woke up because I couldn't wait till morning.

My Gramms smiled and said... "Well honey, I didn't want to spoil the surprise, besides sometimes we have to wait a long time to show someone something, sometimes we have to wait for the right moment so they can see more clearly"

I curiously asked "what do you mean Gramms"

She replied "well honey, this is likely our last visit here on earth.  It may be a long time before we see each other again.  Just like I waited to give you this bible I will wait for you on the other side."

I sat sobbing as she comforted me, I realized that she was comforting me not the other way around and had to ask her...

"Gramms are you scared?"

She smiled that same understanding smile she gave me when I was a girl and asked a million questions and said...

"Oh no honey, I am excited.  I get to meet my Creator, I get to see my Husband, My Son and My Grandson.  I am so excited to see them all and they are excited to see me too."

She meant it, every word of it.  I sat in awe of her ability to be so sure about what was next.

The entire week was moving like this, each moment spent with true happiness and love.  I was amazed at how she helped us all to be okay with her going away.  If she was scared I never saw it, not once.  I thought to myself on the plane ride home... "Self, that is how I want to go.  Sure of what's next, smiling and letting my loved ones know to never mourn my death rather celebrate my life"

My Grandmothers obituary reads on the inside..

Don't Grieve for me, for now I'm Free,
I love you so much Gramms
   I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call.
   I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day
   To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
   I found peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
   Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
   Ah, yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
   I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I've savored much;
  Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all to brief,
  Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me.
  God wanted me now, He set me free.

This morning I read these words while looking through old pictures my Aunt Terry sent me shortly after my Gramms passed on December 2nd 2008.

I first found this 9th grade picture of me and read the words in my own writing on the back to my Gramms and that is where the tears began to flow and the beginning of this entry were born.

I sifted through the old pictures with tears streaming down my face feeling the loss of her, missing her and wishing she were alive today to see that I am on this Journey.  I know that she would be so proud of me, she would have so many encouraging words to give me each step of the way.
Perfect Words to Describe How My Gramms
helped us all to let go of her in the end.

Then I found her obituary, as I read the above passage written inside of it I remembered the day she gave me her bible and her words promising to be waiting on the other side for me.  It was at that moment I realized that she knows about my Journey, she probably knew before I did.  She is proud of me and she lives in my heart to remind me of that every step of the way.

I Love You Gramms, every minute of every hour of every day of this life and the next.

I don't know if my Gramms and my beliefs mirror each other, in fact I know for sure that mine are different than hers were.  I also know for sure that all paths lead to righteousness, I know that in my heart.  My Gramms like My Mother know no racism, no judgement of others.  They both taught me to love from my heart not my eyes.  They both taught me that we are not perfect and not meant to be, that is the point, we are here to learn and one day go home to be with our creator.

Grams I know you can hear me, I know you are waiting for me on the other side with Grampa, Uncle Bill and Kenan.  I love you all, if you have any pull there on the other side can you help me to bring about change on this side.  There are many who live with fear in their hearts, I hope to help them live as you did, with love in abundance.  Thank you.  I love you.

Thank you for sharing this very personal part of my life with me.  Being allowed to share with you all is a true blessing for me and helps me in so many ways.  I used to walk through life trying to hold it all in, the pain I felt made me weak.  Today I know better, today I share honestly and with each day that passes I grow stronger, healthier.  I love you all from a place that is not scared, a place that is happy to be here and blessed to be able to share that with you.

One Love
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