I lost both of my grandmothers in the span of three months.
My Nana had been on home hospice for a while and at the end of her life, was moved to Sanctuary Hospice House. I got to sit with her for many days. I recorded the experience and my thoughts during that time on my Instagram account, so I can look back at those memories in detail later. She passed in the early morning hours at the end of May.
My Granny left this world the last Sunday in August. It happened a bit more suddenly than we expected. She had been fighting health issues for a while, but when they admitted her to the hospital, we expected her to get better and come home. She did get to come home, but on hospice. And her home hospice stay was much shorter than my Nana’s. She came home on a Wednesday and by Sunday, she went to her heavenly home.
I was alone in the room with her when she breathed her last breath. It was the most moving, terrifying, and beautiful experience I have ever had. The details are recorded in my journal, but I will just say here, I felt a warmth and a peace and a fear like the hand of God himself reached down and carried her soul to Heaven. Words cannot do justice to what went on in that room when my Granny left her body behind.
Both of these experiences in being able to help care for my grandmothers in their last days have changed me. Here are three lessons I learned.
1. Life’s events sometimes happen in particular ways in order to bring about what God knows is best. Everything I thought would fall into place for the summer fell apart. I didn’t pass the Math Praxis exam and if I had, I would have made it into the alternate licensing program which started in June. That means I would have missed the opportunity to be with my Nana at the end of her days due to preparing for that program, and her funeral would have occurred during the first days of that program which would have added stress on me and thereby, my family during a time we needed to travel out of state and come together to love on each other.
This program, along with the job I turned down (see previous post) would also have robbed me of time spent with my Granny during her last few weeks. I was one of the people who drove her to her infusion appointments and sat with her at various doctor’s appointments. We got to talk and spend time together and encourage each other in a way I hadn’t been able to since I moved from across the street four years ago. I also would not have been able to sit with her and my mother at the hospital. And I certainly would not have been able to sit beside her bed, read requested Bible verses to her, and sing with her two days before she passed.
If things had come together like I had hoped, I would have missed out on both of the experiences with my grandmothers. Instead, I have moments I can treasure for the rest of my life. So when things don’t go as you plan, just know God can see the big picture. We are limited by what we think we know.
2. Our society puts way too much stock in what we do for a living. Why do we define ourselves by our job titles? We are so much more than that! I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, niece, cousin, and friend. I am a writer, because I write (whether or not I get published or paid for it). I am a furbaby mom, because I adopted dogs and cats. I am a singer, because I sing. I am a co-leader/teacher, because I help teenage girls grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus. I am a nature lover, wildlife admirer, and traveler. I love laughter, hugs, kisses, reading, cooking, spending time with family, and also alone time. I am empathetic, kind, loving, protective, moody, and much more.
I am not limited to the role in which I work, and to put that as the most important aspect of myself limits me. Most importantly, I am a warrior of Light, a soldier of Love, and the daughter of the One True King. I am not perfect, and I will forget who I am at times, but one thing I am sure of is I am loved. You too, are loved. You are so much more than the label society puts upon you. Enjoy who you are rather than focus on what you do to pay the bills. I assure you, when our time comes, our job titles are the least important component to our identities.
3. Time is so much shorter than we realize. When they told my Granny there was nothing more they could do, and began talking to her about hospice, she was floored. She repeatedly said she couldn’t believe it would end like this, or that she couldn’t believe this was it. At the visitation, people said things like, “She was ready,” but the truth is, she wasn’t. The day before she passed, she knew time was drawing near. She was so tired, but my Granny wasn’t ready to let go. She was a fighter, and her main purpose was to tell others about Jesus. Even at almost 80, the end came too quickly and her life went by too fast. This made me even more aware at how being present in the moment is crucial for enjoying life and possibly slowing things down a bit.
The way we live now is hurrying from one activity to the next, or hiding ourselves within our phones. We even try saving moments by snapping pictures or taking videos, but when we do that, we miss being there, being present, and getting lost in those little things the camera can’t capture. (I’m not saying to not take pictures, only that there is no need to record every single moment of an occasion. Remember to put down the phone. Otherwise, you miss participating in the moment.) The best way to live well is to be present, stop rushing, and most certainly, stop wishing for the next big thing. Enjoy now, because sooner than later, it’ll all be over.
So, wake up. Laugh. Dance. Enjoy food in fellowship. Spend time with others. Be silly. Sing. Cry. Hug. Kiss. Forgive. Celebrate. Be authentic. Speak truth in love. Help others. Embrace the moment. Love fiercely. Live boldly. When our time is up, it’s over. So, live well, my friends. Live well.