Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dear Grandma Lena

Josephina Ryann Smith
I 'd like to talk about my Grandma Lena for a moment. Lately, I've been missing my Grandma more than I ever have before. She died in January of 2010. Maybe it's the recent decline in my health (both mental and physical), or the medication, or the stress, or all of the above, but the fact that she is truly separate from me, and that I really honestly can't talk to her, leaves me in tears. Sometimes it's hard being Lutheran. Our connection with the dead isn't strong like it is the Roman religion of my youth. That is, it isn't familiar. The saints who have died are in heaven with Christ, in paradise, outside of time. To them, it will seem like a blink of an eye until they see us again, while for us, it's a lifetime. We can't talk to them or expect help from them or communicate through Ouija boards or anything like that, to anyone but demons I suppose, but we are so infinitely bonded by the love of God given to each of us in our Baptism that it ought to overshadow any feelings is missing and separation. 

Now, I said "ought," and one should never turn an "ought" into an "is." We still miss, and we still cry, and we still want to talk to them. We will get to one day, but right now, Grandma Lena is busy with Jesus, and though I commune with her at the Lord's Supper, our every-day conversations will have to wait until I join her in heaven, which God willing won't be until my kiddo is fully grown and my husband is good and tired of me :)

So, here's to Grandma and our lack of everyday conversations. I love you.

Hallo Grandma, und wie ghets?
I hope that you are well on that side of Heaven's gates.
I have a lot of regrets, wouldn't you know it?
It's about time I swallow my pride and show it.
I missed your funeral after you had died.
I know I was sick, and I'm sorry, I still should have tried.
I wish I would have called every time I had the chance,
and learned all your recipes, your hopes and dreams, and how to polka dance.
I wish I would have just done the dishes and listened to you talk,
instead of standing up for feminists and making myself someone for Grandpa to mock.
I wish I would have paid attention along our garden walks,
to what kind of bird was singing, or if that was that an eagle or a red-tailed hawk.
I'm not sure why--maybe because you are so sweet and kind--
but today, I wish you were still alive.
I wish you'd met my daughter, Grandma, now she's nearly one.
She'd have loved you so, I know, you two would have so much fun.

The truth is that I'm sick now, Grandma, sicker than before,
Sicker than I was when my body started its pointless civil war.
They're not sure if I'll ever get better,
and that is why I'm writing you this selfish letter.
I'm scared and I am lonely, life is changing way too fast.
Now I wish I would have asked you all about your life and past.
I wish I would had asked you how you stayed alive 
when your life got so hard that you could have easily just died.
But you silently endured the tragic drowning of your 7-year-old son,
then the nasty anger and hatred of yet another one.
You felt the crippling of the accident of a grandchild you weren't allowed to know,
and the death of another grandson taken from us all so fast, he wasn't meant for you to hold.
Your home-life wasn't as happy as many thought it to be.
Grandpa was nice to some, but to you, he was as mean as mean could be.

Still your joy was real. Somehow, your happiness wasn't fake.
There are so many lessons from you I wish I could retake.
But we Lutherans never wish: instead, we're taught to pray,
And we'll get our answers, but not 'til Judgement Day.
I pray for you to live again, and I know that you will.
Your baptism into Christ sealed that blessed, loving deal.
I pray that I'd have used my time with you in a better way.
Well, no one can change the past, but God can make the past not matter someday.

Heaven holds no grudges and carries no ill will,
so alive or dead, I know I'd be forgiven still.
Christ took my regret and all your broken-hearted pain to that holy Cross,
and that is the only way you could ever bear your loss.
One moment of His agony was endured just for you, 
for all the things you did and didn't do, but mostly for what was done to you.
You knew what that meant, and so your smile was so very bright.
You knew that Christ would plead your case, and everything would be made right.
You were stronger than most anyone, and far more faithful than I can be,
but still, you're someone I can strive to be.

I am sick, Grandma, very sick, but I'll be okay.
And if I die tomorrow, I'd still say the same.
I'll still be sad sometimes, God allows that, too,
but mostly I'll be happy knowing that His Word is true.
I'll still miss you because things are other than they ought to be;
and I'll keep missing you until it's finally your face I get to see.
Tell Jesus to come back soon: things here are getting worse.
People are dying left and right, the Middle East is in a living curse.
More babies here are dying every hour, inconvenient and unloved.
Nothing I do changes that. I pray for God to change it from above.
I'm running out of hope each time I hear the news,
So please remind our Savior that He promised our side wouldn't lose.

I will see you soon, Grandma, but not too soon, don't worry.
Even though it's scary here, I am in no hurry.
I can love my life, even when life is hard to live
because you and I both know Christ had nothing but Himself to give.

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