For my Grammy, that day was February 4, 2011. Sometimes you get an inkling that this life is drawing to a close. With Grammy, I was completely shocked. I was thinking that she could live another ten years, being from a family of long livers. She was even improving and starting to eat and walk again. I had no idea that February 4th was her day. I simply thought it was my last day with her for a time, since I was flying back to Pennsylvania on February 5th. I am so thankful for that last day with her.
Grammy was cozy in her new room at Harbor House, a memory care facility. She was confused about a lot of things, but she kept on insisting that she was going to move back to her apartment at Primrose. She had spent the Christmas holiday in rehab after a stroke. She was unable to get any of her mail. So she and I spent a long time on her favorite love seat, reading every single Christmas card she had received. I was amazed by how many people still sent her cards and how detailed their letters were. She remembered every single person and told me nice things about each one.
Then I read to her the scripture God had given me when I was praying for her before this trip, Isaiah 43:1-4. I saw Jesus carrying her through this strange new trial like a lamb on his shoulders and he was saying, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. You are precious and honored in my sight and I LOVE YOU!”
Grammy paused from her talking for a moment. I wondered what was going through her mind, and I hoped that she felt God’s love. Then she started right back into discussing moving back to Primrose.
Soon she became very tired, and we tucked her into bed for an afternoon nap. She looked comfortable and peaceful. I kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye.
Chris and I spent the evening with relatives. What a wonderful evening we had! We returned our rental car since a shuttle would be taking us to the airport in the morning. Our relatives drove us back to our rented room at Primrose. Chris and I were so worn out from our busy week. We wanted to just flop into bed and sleep as much as we could before our early morning flight. However, we still had to pack our bags. As we were getting everything ready to return home, we received a phone call. A young nurse from Harbor House informed us with a shaky voice that Grammy had passed away! She had slept away the afternoon. One of the nurses had tried to rouse her for dinner, but Grammy said she was too tired and just wanted to keep on sleeping. When they checked on her again, she had no pulse.
My heart started to beat fast. Was this supposed to be happening? Grammy dead, this soon? I had left too early in the day! I should have stayed at her side all evening. I had missed the moment when she left this earth. I immediately felt sad and guilty. Chris quickly pushed those thoughts aside.
“There was no way that you could have known. You did just what you were supposed to do this week.”
I began to feel a peace fill me. All I could do was what I had done. Grammy lived a long life and died peacefully in her sleep. She didn’t have to suffer. May we all have a death so sweet!
We called our relatives and asked them if they could drive us back to Harbor House. We wanted to say our final goodbyes. I had never experienced death so closely before. When I entered Grammy’s room, she looked just the same as I had left her, peaceful and snuggled under her blankets. I expected her to open her eyes and see me standing there, yet she was still. I felt that I was standing on holy ground. Jesus himself had just been there to gather Grammy into his loving arms and carry her home. His presence still lingered, and it was so sweet.
I really couldn’t know Grammy’s personal relationship with Jesus, what transpired in the depths of her heart and spirit before she died. But the presence of Jesus in the room gave me the peace that I would see her again in heaven. None of us can make it to heaven on our own. It is the same as trying to get to the moon by jumping our very highest. It doesn’t matter how hard we try or how well we train, we just can’t reach the moon. Jesus lived and died in order to carry us there. He is alive right now, constantly loving us and praying for us that we will trust him to do it. So let’s do less jumping and more trusting. There is nothing to fear and EVERYTHING to look forward to. For those who trust in Him, death is a reward and it is holy.