“Well, I wasn’t prepared for that today”, I quietly exclaimed as I turned away from a single white rose and a single white lily, standing in a small etched glass vase, to hastily exit the room. I tried to hold my tears as they welled up in my eyes. I truly thought it would be easier this time. I had been through this before. Why isn’t it easier?
I have never been so excited about the idea of working from home 4 days a week with no human contact. No one can see how often I stare through my tears at the glowing computer screen. Until, the screen melts together and I am no longer able to see what I am typing. How many times I get up to try to distract myself for a minute or two. How quickly the tiny office garbage can fills with fluffy white tissues.
When my first grandmother passed away, I remember the most difficult thing, was walking away from the grave. Almost one week ago, we buried my last grandmother. We were told we could take some flowers from the grandchildren arrangement. I took a small spray of white lilies and a single white rose. My grandmother adored white lilies.
It somehow made leaving less permanent this time. I walked away with a few tears, eyes closed, smelling the flowers. Not outright sobbing like when I left my first grandmother’s burial. Maybe, it would be easier this time. Over the last week, I watched one lily after another, slowly open as another died. Yesterday, the last lily was in its finest moment. It looked and smelled of heaven. I stared at these flowers often, trying to memorize everything about them. Surely it had a day or two left.
When we returned home after the funeral, my husband handed me my grandmother’s memorial card. He said he wasn’t sure if I was able to take one. I told him thank you, I did forget. I looked down at the front of the card and there was an image of a single set of footprints on a beach. All of the breath left my body at that moment. I opened the card and there, below her picture, was the footprint’s poem. I couldn’t breath.
Here is the eulogy I wrote for her and read at the wake.
A Grandma’s Love Lasts Forever
My Husband and I moved the day before last Halloween. My grandma was never able to make it over to see our new place. I had asked my nieces, sister and mom to pick out a tiny garden fairy, to watch over the gardens on our land. My plan was to have them pick out a garden and some flowers to plant. They would place their tiny fairy and plant the flowers in their garden during our Memorial Day weekend picnic.
I had a garden planned for my grandma, but I needed more information on what I should plant. I did get to ask her about her favorite flowers. The ones she for sure wanted in her garden, tulips, canna lilies and red roses. On the days she had a difficult time speaking, she was tired or too sleepy, I told her about her garden. I would describe it in great detail, the great plan I had for her garden.
One thing I never got to tell her was I had picked out a tiny fairy for her. It was somehow too difficult for me. I did tell her though last week that I recently found a beautiful rock, with the words “Grandma’s Garden” carved into it. I told her I would place it right at the spot where the path breaks off. No one would miss it.
As you leave the main trail, you walk under a tree canopy, where the branches seemingly play London Bridge right over your head. You move out of the tree tunnel where the garden opens into a small circle. There is an opening that spills out into the field, where the walking trails that I walk every single morning start. This circle has some sort of magical feeling to it that words cannot describe. It is so beautiful to sit and look over the green flower speckled field.
There is almost always a light breeze twisting through, just enough to keep the mosquitos away. I told her where I was going to put a stone bench, in front of the roses, which would be in the center. I told her about her garden more than a few times.
As a child, I adored a plaque my grandma had hanging on her wall. It contained a poem called “Footprints in the Sand”. I would read it every time I went to visit. I told her how much I loved the poem. She surprised me with my very own plaque the next Christmas. That plaque has been hanging on my wall since I received it.
It tells a story about a person walking on a beach with God, looking back on their life. They notice during the most difficult times in their life, there was only one set of footprints. They turn to question God wondering why this would be. The lord replies, “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Last Saturday night, I sat with my grandma for 3 almost 4 hours holding her hand. I told her again about her garden. Over the time I was with her, I saw her breathing begin to slow. We tried so hard to make her comfortable. She had been in so much pain the last years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and now it seemed seconds. The lord has been graciously carrying her for some time.
When I left, I told her that I loved her. I was so afraid that was the last time I would get to say that to her. The next morning, I awoke early. I couldn’t go back to sleep. Silent tears fell from my eyes. I had one wish for my grandma that morning. I prayed for her to know, that we all loved her. The thing we wanted most was for her pain to be over. Yes, we will be heartbroken, that you had to leave, but the end of your suffering is most important to us all. As I lay there in the hours between sleep and awake. I hoped she would take this opportunity to quietly slip away with God, to a place where she would be safe and her suffering would be no more. She asked God that morning to set her down and she walked with him to a new place.
At that same moment he took us in his arms, he is carrying us now.
I believe my grandma understood, why I wanted her to know, her garden would be a special place. This garden I am making for her. I take solace in this one tiny thing. That when I sit on the stone bench, in front of the red roses, with the breeze blowing gently on my face…it is the hope that she will find this place. That she will sit next to me there, in this magical garden, where our spirits can hold hands and marvel at the beauty of true love that never dies.
Grandma you will live forever in my heart.
Let me leave you with this poem.
“Goodbyes are not forever
Goodbyes are not the end
Goodbyes are something that we say
until we meet again” ~ Author Unknown
I love you Grandma.
On this day, when I saw the last lily with its brown petals lying in a heap at the foot of the vase, it’s beauty gone forever. There was such finality to that moment. I know someday, I will once again look upon all flowers and I will be reminded of my grandma. They will make me smile. I know in that moment, she will be smiling back at me through the flowers.