Most of my friends know that my grandmother recently passed. Some know that I was with her when she died, that I watched as she took her last breath. Very few know how hard it was for me to lose her.
The week after she died, I spent my time informing family, making plans for them to come up, writing her obituary, comforting family members, taking care of my brokenhearted grandfather and planning the memorial. The memorial was last Saturday, and when that was done, it was like the period at the end of a sentence. There was nothing more to do, and so I took some time to do the grieving that I hadn't had a chance to do with all the busy work the previous week.
It was heart wrenching. I hid in my room. I couldn't talk to people, not even my best friend. I popped on the computer every now and then to have some connection to the outside world, but couldn't really communicate. I felt numb half the time and spent the rest of the time bawling my eyes out.
But, that time was what I needed. My grandmother was more than a grandmother to me; she was like a best friend, a mother, a spiritual guide and a role model all rolled up in one, beautiful lady. For more than 15 years I'd had almost daily contact with her... holiday dinners, card games, quiet chats, sometimes loud arguments (lol), and she taught me so much. She meant the world to me and without her, things just aren't as bright in my world anymore. I'm certain the brightness will come back as the sadness fades, as all sadness does in time, but for now I'm living life like a computer monitor adjusted for eye strain, if that makes sense.
It'll get better. People die - it's the natural course of life, and when I cry, it's not for her, it's for me.
I don't cry as often, but everything I see reminds me of grandma in some way. I never knew how much of my house had something of her in it, from curtains to knick knacks. Even my garden glows with Grandma as it's the fifth generation of marigolds from the seeds she gave me years ago that are growing in my flowerbed right now. I plan on perpetuating them indefinitely, passing seeds from them down to my own kids when they move out so we can keep Grandma's marigolds going forever.
I know this will make this post very long, but before I begin to be active on this site again without posting about my pain and loss so much, I feel the need to post the eulogy I gave for her at her memorial service.
With this posting, I'm putting my heartache at my grandmother's death aside in order to live life again and let go of the pain little by little. If I can start here, I can start doing it with other parts of my life, too.
Here's what I wrote and spoke for my grandmother, Georgia Lewis, who left us at 11 PM, Friday, July 10th, 2009... one hour before her birthday.
My grandma, was a very special person. I wish that more people would have had a chance to get to know her as Grandpa and I and our family did simply because of the way Grandma touched every life she intersected with in a unique and wonderful way. I don't ever remember hearing from anyone who met her that they didn't like her but I do remember a lot of people commenting on what an awesome grandma I had and how they wished their grandmas were more like mine.
For me, it's impossible to honor grandma without honoring her husband as well, my very much loved grandpa Frank. I lived with my grandparents from age sixteen to eighteen. They were kind enough to take me in when circumstances led to me needing them, and they did so with a united loving heart. Like most teenagers, it took me a decade or so before I fully appreciated the sacrifices they made for me. We remain close today... even to the point where when we moved out here, they followed soon after to be closer physically to my family. I remember being so sad to have left them in Grand Forks to move here and then being almost childishly overjoyed when they surprised me with the news they'd bought a house out here and that we'd all be together again.
Grandma had always been like a mother to me in all ways - from being my sounding board, my teacher and the woman I looked up to the most, to silly fights and my relatively tame teenage rebellion. She taught me about gardening, living frugally, being happy with what we had rather than desiring more. She taught me about forgiveness and trust. In her way, she helped heal some terrible hurts in my heart, and I'm not even sure she knew how much influence she had on me with her words of wisdom and her constant example.
She and grandpa both supported me unwaveringly through my turbulant early adulthood. In fact, Grandma, through a series of very weird events, is directly responsible for my meeting and marrying my husband who is, and always will be my best friend. Most of the paths grandma has set me, and a lot of our family members, on have turned out better than any of us could have planned ourselves.
Grandma had an unwavering faith in the Lord and she passed that down to me and my kids. We talked a lot about the Bible and about God and about what it meant to be a Christian. Grandma took "love thy neighbor" to the farthest extent she could, always reaching out to help, even to those she didn't personally know. She gave her time, material needs, emotional support, physical labor, and prayers freely and with a glad heart and through her I learned the joy of giving and helping. She was never happier than when she was able to lend a hand to someone in need. That was just part of her gentle and loving spirit. She truly lived God's love.
I tried to be a good granddaughter to her, and like most children, most humans, fell short in many areas, but I'd like to think that she knew how much I loved and admired her and how much I wanted her to be proud of me. I wouldn't be the person I am today without her influence in my life and I'll always be grateful to her and to God that I ended up in North Dakota with Grandma Georgia and Grandpa Frank.
Today, we're all feeling the loss of Grandma and it's painful but I know she's in a better place without pain, without the limitations of the human body, and her spirit is glowing bright with the love and beauty she always possessed in life, just set free now. Heaven is a brighter place with her in residence. Our loss is truly Heaven's gain and my comfort is in knowing that someday we'll all be together with Grandma again in the presence of our Lord.
Thank you, everyone, for being here and remembering my Grandma today. She was a uniquely special person who was, and is, very much loved.