Easter weekend 2006.
I left Nashville to fly to Arizona. My grandpa had been taken off life support and we believed he was hanging on until we could all say goodbye. I walked into hospice, saw him, and tried my best to keep it together.
My sweet grandma held me and told me it was okay to cry. I hardly recognized his swollen body as he breathed in shallow breaths. He was really dying. And I couldn’t do anything. Could he hear me? I asked. They hoped so. I whispered the words I had failed to tell him before. That I loved him. That I was proud to be his granddaughter. That he could go home.
On Easter Sunday I got on the airplane and felt the panic rising in my chest. NO! GO BACK! I CAN’T LEAVE! I WILL NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN! STOP!
But we didn’t stop. And 30 some days later he took his last breath and was ushered into Heaven.
I don’t remember much about that Easter. Not nearly as much as I remember being a little girl at my other grandpa’s house during Easter. The feel of the grass under my wiggly toes as we hopped around trying not to step on a cactus while we looked for Easter eggs.
Look grandpa! I found one!!
And I remember the wind on my bare legs as I ran across the backyard scouring for my Easter basket. I remember the sun hitting my face as I giggled loudly. I remember feeling safe. Like I was the most loved little girl in the world.
How fitting that I’m back in Arizona on Easter to once again say goodbye.
An odd choice of words no?
I’ve said before that the LORD has brought the exact same situations into my life and made me relive them so He can redeem them. I don’t think this situation is any different. On the day that we celebrate Death and Life, I get to celebrate life.
Because without that Death and Life, this eventual death would be permanent. It would be the end. But whenever this death comes, it is not permanent. I get to celebrate life and Life because of Death. How redemptive our God chooses to be.
So for now it’s living in the tension of loving deeply and the agonizing pain of sorrow. Like I’ve quoted Brene Brown before about vulnerability. It’s the birthplace of shame but also the birthplace of love, joy, creativity, connection, acceptance.
I can’t have a life of love without facing sorrow. But that sorrow means that I’ve been the luckiest girl in the world. That I have truly known love. That I have been seen and heard and valued and cherished and adored.
As CS Lewis once said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
And while I hardly have the strength – He does.