Thursday, January 19, 2012

When someone great is gone.

You start crying when you're on the phone with your sister, because she tells you that your granny died that morning. The same granny whose wedding dress you wore, five months and one day before. You are happy that that day happened, because it was meaningful for both of you, but you can't keep from reflecting on the fact that she was present, and now she's not. You will forever know that your wedding date is the last day you saw your granny alive. You ask your sister how your dad is, because they were very close, and he is very tender. You find out that he said, "It sure makes a person feel alone in the world." You are reminded of a line from your favorite book, "All the times I have suddenly realized that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist." You realize that must be what your dad is feeling now, for the first time. You sorrow with him, even though you are 614 miles away. You sorrow again, because you were just there for 24 hours, and didn't use any of those hourly allotments to visit your granny, because you thought you would be going back soon. And now you are, but for a different reason than you suspected. And while you're sad, you have to be thankful that it is possible to go back at all, and that you aren't still 6,422 miles away, as you were less than a week ago.

You remember another phone call from another sister, regarding a different death. You were 18, and in DT with your friend from home. You were watching a movie. You still remember the title. It is Stepmom with Julia Roberts. The call comes in your friend's dorm phone, because you don't have a cell phone yet. You pick it up, and your sister is crying. You know it must be bad, because while you cry, this particular sister doesn't. You ask if it is about her then boyfriend. She says no. You understand that it must be even worse. You go down six flights of stairs and out the door, to where she picks you up. You get in. Your first question: "Did someone die?" Her answer: "Yes. Grandpa." Your hero. You feel part of you die too. It will take a long time for that part to come back, to thaw, but for the time being you drive to your granny's house in Orem. It takes about fifteen minutes, but feels much longer. On the way, you pass UVU back when it was still UVSC. The reader board tells you that your current favorite band is coming: Counting Crows. You feel almost as if it is one kind thing from God, on a seemingly unkind day. You kneel on the floor next to your granny, as she sits in her arm chair. You stay until 3 am. You cry together, and you and your sister listen as your granny tells what happened: a heart attack. The last time you saw him, he was sitting in his arm chair, the one that mirrors your granny's. You were watching BYU play Air Force in football. BYU is losing. Badly. You cheer and act silly anyway. Your grandpa falls asleep sitting down. He is tired. It keeps you from being able to say goodbye before you leave.

Before his funeral, you attend a viewing just for family. You don't want to walk up to the casket, but you do, because you want to see him one more time. You are standing there alone, but soon are joined by your two youngest cousins. One is four and one is five. They hold your hands. The four year old, a boy, tells you not to cry. He tells you that your grandpa is okay, that he's happy there. He tells you that he is with his parents and his siblings. He tells you that you were lucky, because you knew him more. And you know he's right. You are amazed at the faith of a child: the complete trust. At the funeral, you sing your grandpa's favorite primary song, with all of your brothers and sisters and cousins: "Teach Me To Walk In The Light." You try hard not to cry while you sing, but do so anyway.

You come back to the present, and wonder who will hold your hand when you walk to your granny's casket, or whose hand you will hold. You wonder about your own faith, and if it is as strong as a child's, to believe all of the things you say you believe. You think about LDS temples and sealings (which you have already been thinking quite a lot about), and you marvel at their claim, to unite families for eternity. You think of the way you taught about them when you were a missionary, pointing to traditional marriage that separates at death, and extolling that if God created a marriage, it could last. Things human beings make break (including cars, microwaves, and toasters), but things that God makes can keep. You think about the Priesthood, which claims to be God's power on the earth, and what it says about binding things not only on the earth, but in heaven. You think about Christ and Easter and how those things work together with temples and other church teachings. You think about something else your sister said today, that your granny was ready to go--that she wanted to go, so you remember beautiful things about her, and beautiful traditions she passed on: most notably granny pajamas and Christmas pillowcases and her artwork. You long for the resurrection, and you feel grateful.


steenblikrs said...


Rachel said...

awww. I love you and your Granny. I remember how your Granny had painted rocks in her house. I met her a few times and she was so sweet. I love that you have the special memory of her at your wedding and that you wore her wedding dress...Maybe she can visit my Granny at the coffee shop. They can eat brownies together and talk about their Rachels. And we can think about them and cry sad, but also cry happy.

Ashley A. said...

This was so beautiful. I'm sorry about your Granny. My Grandma has had some close calls lately and I've been feeling similar emotions. How wonderful to have the memories from your wedding and that beautiful picture of the two of you. Love you.

Cumorah said...

Rachie, this was perfect. Everything in words that my heart feels. Love you.

Lauren Kay said...

Oh Rachel, I'm sorry about your grandma. But what a beautiful post. I love the pictures from your wedding.

Veronica said...

So sorry, Rachel.

Rachel. said...

Rachel: I love that she gave you a rock. That means she really really liked you. She didn't give those to just anybody. :)

Ashley: Thank you. Also thank you, because you were a good friend to me my freshman year when I was sorrowing those first sorrows.

Cumo: We feel it together. We mourn together and rejoice together.

Lauren: You are the friend from home. Yours was the dorm, when we were younger. You were so kind after that first sorrow too. So kind. Thank you for then and thank you for now.

All: Bless you, friends.