I am sitting here finishing up this piece as I sit in hospice with my dying grandmother, who is more like my best friend than a grandparent. Sweet Mary Lane had a massive heart attack on December 12th. If you ever want to put life into perspective in two seconds flat just walk into a hospice and stay a spell or two. You will feel your toes dangling on the edge of this broken world and leaning over the vast canyon of eternity. It’s a scary, yet heavenly view.
You know, I told Seth I really was having a hard time coming up here to hospice because I hate seeing her look like this—a shell of who she was just one month ago, minus the polish on her nails which reminds me of her spunky, sassy, feminine self that once was just 30 days ago. But as I was walking up to St. Thomas hospital almost dreading what she may look like today, her frail body fading into infinity I realized I was being selfish. Going to sit with her isn’t about me or me feeling uncomfortable with death’s blow; it’s about her. It’s about my grandmother, Mary Lane. Loving her when she doesn’t know or see that I am even there. Not for the praise or the admiration or even the validation—just for the sake of loving her if only with my presence.
As I sit in this medicinal room cossetted in this awkward, faded floral, very uncomfortable chair, staring out over a parking garage, I recognize here lies a women that has lived and loved; strong and steady, with a bold spirit and a tender heart. She with Jesus’ grace and compassion has made her time count on this monotonous, yet glorious ride around the sun. Time teaches us so much if we allow it…each year brings more mistakes, which if embraced brings more wisdom. And here is a woman who was born in small town Mississippi in the 1930’s six weeks early and was fed through a goat dropper and slept in a drawer because she was so small. Seems she is a miracle herself.
And the only words I can seem to write are invisible ones she wrote on my life:
Time teaches you to live more fully, forgive more freely because you realize we all get lost in this maze called life. Some by unwise choice, others by unpredictable force. Regardless, we all walk in circles during certain stages of life—searching, seeking, restlessly hoping there is a door that has been left open so that we might not have to find our way, but rather escape our circumstances. We grope for the next big moment that will numb our present circumstance because sometimes living through the mundane is harder than living thought the tragic or magical moments of life.
Times teaches you that we all grope through darkness and find our way like cars traveling in the night—with God shining light only five feet ahead at a time onto the highways of our life. But our human hearts somehow can travel thousands of miles this way, one beam at a time a time we move forward often not knowing where we are going, but finding momentum in that fact that we are not where we use to be.
Time teaches you that you must only old standards for others that you can live up to yourself. Or else they aren’t standards at all—they are simply a noose strangling those that you love the most and suffocating the meaning and power of GRACE in your own life.
Time teaches you that there is no room for judgment or energy on stones being thrown because all of our lives are lived in glass sanctuaries. We all are prone to wander minus God’s saving mercy and loving kindness; so who are we to pile up our rocks in our torn pockets and wait to cast them? And if the stones are indeed flung which at some point we all succumb to this ugly act then the judgment always seems to ricochet tenfold because that is what judgment does, it destroys lives. Love builds.
Time teaches you that God more often than not gives us, allows us circumstances in our life that are far beyond our comprehension, our understanding—most often leaving us perplexed and questioning the validity of our faith…quite possibly God’s goodness. We often become bitter or better when these tragic events arise. There really is no in-between space to linger because difficulty never bore apathy—but struggle will always breed either a hard heart or an overflowing one. It’s yours to choose.
Time teaches you that relationships are all that matter in this life. In the words of Les Mes “to love another is to see the face of God”. The memories we have of the ones we hold dear are the mortar of our soul’s home. The people we love each a doorway leading to undiscovered space in our heart.
Time teaches you that beautiful people are not born. They are wrought. They are usually formed and fashioned through plans uncoiled, love lost, love not returned, and most often life handing equal parts pain and joy. Brokenness has a keen way of breeding beauty. A beauty in which we all gravitate towards because beauty’s nickname is authenticity.
Time teaches you that it is better to believe the best of people and be disappointed than to expect the worst and live jaded.
Time teaches you that love is worth the hurt. That a thousand cried tears headed southbound with your shoulders quaking, your heart breaking because death has crept in and stolen your loved one without permission is worth it. To truly love others you must be willing to get hurt –there is no other formula unless you settle for counterfeit love all your life.
Time teaches you that the only way to resuscitate a broken heart is to keep beating even when you want to quit, to hide, to stop, to go numb. Yes, yes, you must always keep beating. Feeling again. Living again. Loving again. Forgiving again. Dreaming again. All these acts of the human spirit pump more blood, more life, more freedom.
Time teaches you that words are cheap,actions are expensive. No one really care how many scriptures you know, they just care that you live out your faith with conviction and love. The way you live your life Monday through Saturday is your greatest sermon, you need not say a thing.
Time teaches you only what it can once you realize it is not yours to hold forever…
I usually include a lot of photos but now just doesn’t seem the time. But I did want to share this photo. I had this amazing night with her last Thursday while she was conscious and alert and she just squeezed my hands with all her might the entire time and mustered up from deep within ” you know I will always love you..” in her thick southern brogue. I will forever be grateful for that time.
My precious grandmother entered heaven today, January 9th around 4 pm. I am heartbroken, but rejoice that she is in the Lord’s embrace eternally. Love you always, sweet Mary Lane.