In Love and Death
by Christie Perkins
A brief vision of days past flash through my mind. A wave of emotion overcomes me. I remember Grandma standing at the edge of her yard in her curled hair and up curled lips. Grandpa in his navy blue pocketed shirt is waving with those knobby knuckles. I watch out the back window of the van as we turn the corner. Until next time.
It is just a vision, for Grandpa’s been gone for years. Grandma’s only been gone a few days.
I fight the stinging of hot tears brimming in my eyes as I realize that today will be the last time I visit Grandma. No more aqua rainforest soap, aloe vera plants for bee stings, or Tang coupled with amazing breakfast eggs edged with that secret ingredient. (Seriously! How could she not like her own eggs?)
All is gone. But not forgotten.
I touch the corner of each eye to drain the tear and I take a breath.
“Bye Grandma, love ya.” My thoughts cradle my memories. Good byes are never easy but today I say my final good bye.
I believe the wave of emotion I feel is from Grandma whispering back one last good bye. The emotion I feel is not in the doom of her death but in the power of her love. Until next time… as for now Grandma and Grandpa will stand at the edge of heaven and earth and watch over us until we see each other again.
December was tough for me. Not only did I lose my grandma but I also lost two friends to cancer. One friend lived a block away from me, she found her cancer about a week after me. We talked a lot about life, death, and those pesky prairie dogs.
The other friend came as a surprise visit. We had both served in a Young Women’s organization 13 years prior to our reconnection at the cancer center. I looked forward to chemo days only because I knew that angel smile of hers would greet me there.
These two funerals were the exact same day. Nearly the exact same time. We all battled together, yet I remain. Oh how survivors guilt is also difficult to bear.
These were both key people placed in my path. I did not fully understand who they were or even realize the impact of their significance until the very moment I needed them. And oh, how I needed them. Yet, long before I knew we would face this struggle we had an instant connection.
We were nuclear waste dump groupies (aka chemo buddies). Now, that’s not a group that has a very big fan base. But groupies we were.
You never know why certain paths cross. Though, I am absolutely certain that we were meant to comfort one another in our cancer journeys. God knew the reasons long before we had any clue. How tender are His mercies in our puzzle of life.
As you piece your life together there are others who will neatly fill the holes in the big picture. Some of those people God purposely places there in His perfect timing; some were destined to be there from the beginning- like our families.
But, all of these people are important pieces to our puzzle.
When loved ones depart they leave holes in your puzzle. No one likes a missing piece to the puzzle. No one. Now just a memory is left to fill in the gaps. Death does not ruin the puzzle because these pieces are not lost, but they are tucked away in a little box in your heart… for later when we will see them again.
But, lets face it, the hole often hurts. Though we are often strong for others, it is the silent tears in quiet moments that usually hurt the most.
In the True to the Faith book, under physical death it states “Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of love…The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.”
So, your tears of mourning is just a token of your love for them. What an incredibly sweet emotion.
I believe with all of my heart that our departed ones continue to fill those gaps in our puzzle, we just don’t get to see them. Yes. Unseen angels. And in the stillness we may feel them brushing very near us. We may not feel them often but I’m sure they are there because I believe they continue to be a very real part of your lives. We have to trust they are near and helping us. And the life that they lived is not lost to some moment, here and gone forever.
No way. Their magnificent life is perfecting us.
Notorious Notions Of Our Deceased
All who take their exit in this world leave behind their own personal masterpiece. Think about it: Mother Teresa was notorious for helping and loving the poor. Babe Ruth- his homeruns. Larry H. Miller- for saving the Utah Jazz basketball team and his excellent problem solving skills. Hellen Keller- for her amazing power to overcome. President Thomas S. Monson- for his ability to drop and run to the timely rescue of others and his respect and love for the elderly. Though, thankfully he is not deceased, but certainly making a mark in the world.
And then, there’s my grandma: the most gentle, kind, and patient woman EVER.
Grandma was always quiet, but kind. She was perfect at it. She had a beautiful smile and a quiet chuckle that ignited her face in a splash of sunbeams. It triggered an instant warm glow inside of me every time she laughed.
I remember her getting mad only once. My brothers and I were fighting and in a firm, stern, voice she said “knock it off.” She didn’t even yell but we knew we had crossed the line.
The fight fizzled immediately and the guilt was pretty thick. To know that we upset perfect patience was a little unsettling.
Her fine-tuned qualities was my Grandmas perfect parting gift. I know the impact that she made on me and I hope to adopt the qualities that she took a lifetime to perfect. Though, in my eyes, she never had to work very hard at it.
I think that we are all born with the ability to do something amazing. And as we follow that craving to change the world, as our departed loved ones have done, our own masterpiece takes form.
Making a Difference
Honor and carry out their masterpiece. Pick up some pieces they have left in your heart and you will see how their very natures are perfecting us. They complete our puzzle. Of that I am grateful to have loved and lost… but also to have gained.
Just like those who have passed from this life, our very own lives are meant to be perfected- to be a little more: to give, to master our talents, to work through our difficulties, to overcome, to rescue, and to be a little more kind.
See the good. Emulate it.
So, one day, when we are gone the headstone hunters will share how our piece to the puzzle made a difference in the world.
And you do make a difference.
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