Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Grandparents Teach

I'm finding that I am looking at things with a whole different perspective as I experience the walk on this road of my grandmother's terminal illness.  Grieving can be a difficult process.  There are times when days feel normal and everything's ok and other days that crescendo into an emotional whirlwind that seem impossible to calm.  (I learned that big word....crescendo...from Little Einsteins in case you were wondering;)

My Grandma's illness has brought up so many different thoughts and emotions.  There are lots of times that I find myself thinking of the past.  All the memories from my childhood, and especially holiday celebrations at my grandparents' house, transport me there in my mind once again.  Those memories are warm and comforting and I am grateful for every one of them.

When my mind is in the present and processing through her illness, the grief is strong for the loss that I know is coming.  Every family member has a place in my life and having that place empty is going to hurt.  Family dynamics will change.  My grandmother was the magnet that drew everyone together.  With her gone, each of her children, all with their own families, will not have that unifying factor any longer.  Get togethers will change...and change is hard.

I think the most difficult thought process that I have been trying to work through is the future.  When someone dies, it reminds me of my own mortality.  I've already been struggling with this being on the brink of the big 4-0....and now it is magnified even more.

Up until 2 or 3 years ago, age just felt like a number that could go on forever.  It was just a number.  As 40 gets closer and doesn't feel like 'just a number' anymore.  All of a sudden, the invincibility has gone away and vulnerability has taken up residence.  As I near 40, the realization that everything has a ceiling is more than a little scary.  There is an end....and 40 can very well be, (if I am blessed), close to a halfway point!

The feelings and thoughts I had when I was younger of being able to do just about anything is abruptly replaced with the knowledge that those ideas are no longer true.  The choice path is more narrow.....although that doesn't mean my life isn't full.

(I'm sorry...I know this is probably completely confusing!  That's what happens when emotions rule the roost!)

Let's try an Christmases past, I would go a little crazy with desserts.  I would make 2 cheesecakes, a couple of pies, some fudge and many different kinds of cookies.  Lots of choices!

Now, I simplify  a bit and only do 1 cheesecake, 1 pie, a trifle, some cookies, and a gluten free dessert.  Still more than enough to satisfy and look exciting so I don't even miss making more!(and I get to enjoy the extra down time!)

That's where I'm at in life, too.  I may have less choices, but everything I do have in my life fills me up just the same!  And, just like on Christmas when my sister often shows up with an incredible addition to the dessert table, God frequently throws in something interesting and exciting in my life!  (My life is certainly not boring!)

My Grandma's illness has made me feel, not only the grief of preparing to lose her presence in my earthly life, but also the other areas that I feel loss in my life:  grief over a family member's broken marriage, the grief over loving our son through a broken relationship, praying another son through frustration and unmet longing, and dealing with my own grief about children growing up and learning the painful process of letting go.

Looking forward, considering that one day I will be in my Grandma's position of preparing to meet our Lord at any moment, is making me think about how I might want that to look.  I don't want to get there and have a list full of regrets.    I'm pretty sure there's a lesson or a direction that God is trying to teach me and guide me into.  This is something that's going to take more time, and lots of prayer, to work through.

All of my (messy and confusing) thoughts and feelings is just another proof that grandparents have so much to teach us....even up to their very last day!