Sunday, May 15, 2005

My weekend started prematurely with an urgent call from my mother. My Granny, who is battling in the final throes of pulmonary fibrosis, was on the verge between this world and the next.

So, off we went, to spend the next few days by her bedside. We have been preparing for this time, but you are never "ready." I wasn't ready for her to clear the rest of the family from the hospital room in order to speak to me alone. As she urges me close, I hang over this strong-willed yet loving matriarch and she proceeds to give me her last wishes regarding the funeral and things thereafter. It was just too surreal when your most available memories of your Granny are of how she's the coolest Granny in the whole world because she runs the toy department at K-Mart. She always had the best gifts at Christmas. She had the kind of love that as a grandchild, you found it impossible not to immerse yourself totally in it. That is what I think of as I'm draped over her crumpled, oxygen-starved body trying to discern her words.

We thought that Thursday was going to be the Day. But my Granny told me the next day that she asked God to take her while she was choking for breath. She heard him say "no....not yet."

There is a "grace unto dying." I think I am seeing it bear out here some, but I have seen it in the past. It seems to me that God bends "nearer" during this transitioning, bestowing a measure of his presence to his dying child and those who love them. It sustains, enables, energizes and incarnates even if it doesn't miraculously heal. My Granny will not get better. Granny knows that. Even God knows that. This is not faithless defeatism. This grace is allowing my Granny to fashion her farewells in ways that others do not have. There are still rifts in our family that need mending and if we watch how my Granny is learning to die in this grace, I think there is the availability of healing for those who persist here on earth. We're talking about a deep history of relational fragmentation here too, but it can happen if we want it.