Disclaimer: This was hard to write. It might be hard to read.
Today I woke up tired, but not just tired, the kind of tired that stopped me getting out of bed. That’s rare. I calculated if I could afford to miss what I would if I pressed snooze, and then did so. Now that I’m awake I am physically rested, but my head and my heart are sore.
Then I saw the date. It is my sisters’ birthday. I wonder what it would be like to have a 25 year old sister. I hardly ever think of her but this morning I can’t stop. It is all conjecture – looks, personality, the imagined teenage squabbles and the imagined closeness I like to think we would have now. 2 days is not enough to know a person or be known, so I do not know her, but I like to fill in the gaps, sometimes.
And then there is Grandma. People have been kind and I’ve been fine. But now, on a Tuesday, for no apparent reason, I’m not. I’m sad. I’m unmotivated. I want to crawl into bed and watch tv all day but I’d hate myself if I did. I have compromised. Class at a reasonable hour instead of 8am. No chapel. I love chapel ordinarily but I felt anxious about stupid things just thinking about it. Probably I would cry. So I don’t go.
When my rabbits died and Dad threw their remains in the bin I woke in the early morning as the garbage collectors came and I thought about what was left of them being squashed amongst the trash and I cried. Morbid, I know. I can’t switch off the vivid, especially at 5am.
A similar thing happened – on a completely different scale obviously – last night. I flicked through my phone and saw a picture of Grandma from a month ago when I was there. Her body was warm. My aunt put makeup on her as we sat in the sun. Then I realised with a jolt that in the hours before, yesterday, her body was cremated, as unceremoniously as something with inherent ceremony can be. It was functional. No one attended – that’s what she wanted. We will remember her on Saturday, but she won’t be there. She wouldn’t have been there anyway, even if her body had been, I guess that’s the point. But it still tore at me to think of my Grandma not being anything like her former self, now. Not anything like it.
Mostly I cry when I think about heaven, especially when I think about her being there. The thought of heaven often makes me cry, which is ironic considering I won’t when I’m there. It’s the wonder, I think. The finally being home. It’s the thought of a life spent hoping, now realised. It’s the thought of the ‘made for more’ being felt, and known, and luxuriated in. It’s the thought of loving Jesus properly, instead of distractedly. It’s the thought of the ‘aha’ moment I expect to have, when so many random things make sense. It’s the thought of being what we were made to be. Of singing before the throne. She couldn’t wait for that. She chose ‘Oh for a thousand tongues to sing’, for Saturday. She longed for hers to be one of those tongues.
And amazingly, as I drink coffee out of a west wing mug and ball up tissues on a Tuesday morning, my Grandma is with Jesus, worshipping him as she was made to.
She was so happy, to think of that. I don’t have to speculate how happy she must be now. And her example reminds me of my sin, but also the grace that has been shown. Jesus paid it all, for her. I long to love him with my life – and death – the way she did.
And so she was a pretty great lady, but only because Jesus saved her. His is the name she wants sung, on Saturday, not hers. So I write out anecdotes that I won’t say, about crosswords and technology and lemon sago without sugar, and fish pie. And then her words ring in my ears: “Don’t cry. It’s all good. Tell them about Jesus.”
“And when before the throne, I stand in him complete. ‘Jesus died, my soul to save’, my lips will still repeat.“