On Christmas Day, my grandma decided to celebrate Jesus‘ birthday with Him in person.
Of course I knew that her home-going would happen at some point (she was 98 after all) - but that doesn’t mean I was ready for it.
I’m here to encourage you through a painful failure of my own.
For the last several years, I literally remember thinking “I’m not ready for Grandma to go away.” Basically dreading the inevitable.
Guess what? Dreading the inevitable doesn’t actually change the 98 year old inevitable. In fact, I have no control over the inevitable.
I control only one thing: me.
What can you control today?
Just before Christmas, I was specifically
mindful of our grandmas who all live in care facilities where Covid had rendered visiting impossible. Because they all live in the Minneapolis area, it was easy to be too busy to just walk by their window outside for a wave.
In lieu of a visit, the girls and I resorted to sending our greetings via mail. Not just any card would do for their great grandmas though! No- only hand painted of course. We set out to make each Grandma a note of particular Christmas cheer.
Trouble is - Christmas time is busy. Days came and went before I got those notes in the mail. “It’s ok that it is already Christmas Day”, I rationalized. “I’ll just send it around Christmas…..People do that sometimes.”
The trouble with tomorrow, is that you may not actually have it. I counted on tomorrow, and it let me down.
Losing anything is hard. Losing someone particularly special, feels unrecoverable.
In the case of my grandma, “special” was this century’s understatement. Maybe everyone feels that way about their own grandma, which is probably as it should be.
But if you happened to meet my grandma, you would understand. Upon meeting her, you were instantly wrapped in the warmest storybook grandma you could imagine. So much so that words of explanation fail her. She was the first to be up for anything - even at NINETY years old!! In 2011, she visited the farm just after we moved here. She wanted to do it all! Milk a cow? Yes! Feed a Calf? YES! Stick her fingers in the milker? YES! Ride the four wheeler? Yes!
From her deeply interested, lower-than-life voice that eagerly, but gently, “umhmm-ed” or “ho-hoed” in response to your stories, she encouragingly pressed for more as she literally leaned in and hung on every word you said. She was a deep listener. A perfect responder. An expert question asker that made you feel like a million bucks.
She held no barrier to emotional connection, or had any concept of personal space - often gently grabbing a hand full of your shirt sleeve or warmly resting on your arm just to lean in closer.
When my grandma met people, she left a mark of humorous awe and friendly wonder. I regularly heard “I want to be like your grandma” in response to people meeting her. I think everyone DID want to be like her, because she made everyone feel just that special.
She had extra twinkle to go around and she generously shared it. —Twinkly eyes, twinkly humor, twinkly smile, twinkly encouragement as she hung on every word you said - almost as though forgetting to breath for herself. Then, at just the appropriate moment in your story, she would breathe a deep, chuckling sigh, slowly shake her head from side to side and respond with her signature “Oh,oh!!!” or her twinkly, drawn out, disbelieving “Oh’ muh Ghosh!!”
My painful failure:
Christmas is the season for 'all-the-things" and my note never got in the mail. By Christmas day, I didn’t have tomorrow with grandma Ruth. Now I just have lots of tears and a page of unsaid things that I wish I could’ve said.
The amazing truth:
Even through the pain of death, there is great hope and joy for me because my grandma trusted Jesus as her Savior as it says in Romans 10:9-10. Her long 98 years here were just a short internship for her eternity, which she will spend with Jesus. She did her internship so well - footsteps I long to follow for my internship.
How's your internship going?
Don't count on tomorrow because it might let you down.
Where is your list of unsaid things? Is it on your counter like mine is?? Is it in your head? Where are the things you *think* you have tomorrow to say?
Maybe you're waiting on someone else to do something before you say your unsaid things.
Like waiting for a spouse to speak your love language before you take the first step and speak theirs.
Or maybe your unsaid things are to your kids because it feels awkward to tackle them and tell them you love them. - You can always do it tomorrow,.... right?
Maybe your unsaid things are to an elderly person who has been lonely every since Covid but you still can’t visit, so you just wait and keep your unsaid words to yourself.
Maybe you have unsaid words of forgiveness…
Maybe you have unsaid words of encouragement..
Maybe you have unsaid words of love…
Maybe you have unsaid words of veneration…
Maybe you have unsaid words of husband respect…
Maybe you have unsaid words of truth…
Whatever they are, can I encourage you to say them before those unsaid words are reduced to a painful, undeliverable letter?
Tomorrow is not inevitable.
Today may be your only chance.
So send the letter
Say the things
Love the people
Just do it.