Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Glimpse of Heaven: on Death, Faith and Miracles

I just got back from traveling long distance to my grandmother's funeral.  When you have lost a spouse, funerals are not a easy.  They bring back so many emotions and memories, yet I felt compelled to go to comfort my grandpa and my mother.  I was expecting it to be hard, but it was a sweet and tender experience to be there. One that taught me that miracles still occur....

My grandmother had suffered several strokes and was on hospice.  We received word on Sunday that she was no longer able to swallow and take fluids.  Knowing that a healthy adult can only survive a few days without water, the funeral was planned for Friday and flights were arranged for Thursday.  Family was praying for her to go peacefully and quickly.  She did not seem in pain as she quietly breathed in a unresponsive state.  As the week progressed, my grandmother continued to hang on.  Her body began to show signs of eminent shut down, yet morning after morning I awoke to news that she had lasted still another night.

My mother called me often during the week struggling with the situation. I could tell that she wished to be there when her mother passed, but living so far away she did not think it was possible for that to happen.  She began to worry that the funeral may have to be delayed, and that our trip would be for naught. Thursday arrived and we continued with our travel plans, learning on the way to the airport that my grandmother had miraculously made it through yet another night.  That day was my grandparents 64th wedding anniversary.  As I thought while I drove, a very distinct thought formulated in my mind...
"Grandma is waiting for my mother to be there."
I voiced my thought on a family text and another sister confirmed that she had felt the same. My mother was making the 1300 mile trip by car.  I called her and told her that I believed that her mother was waiting for her.  My mother broke down in tears and confessed that in her heart she had wanted to be there, but she didn't even dare pray that such a thing was possible.

Our whole family changed our prayer.  We prayed that grandma would have the strength to make it until that time.  Then we acted in faith to get there as quickly as possible.  Hour by hour she miraculously was sustained by something other than natural laws.  Her frail less than 90 lb body could have never survived on its own for such a time period without fluid.

Some how in her comatose state, 
she was aware of her daughter's secret prayer.  

The daughter who lived so far away and who wished so desperately to be there. Some how in that state she was aware of her anniversary date and wanted to be there with grandpa through that day.

My mother said they were able to drive with very little stops, and they arrived and hour and a half earlier than expected, ahead of those of us who were flying.  My mother hurried to her mother's side and gently cupping her mother's cheek whispered with tears in her eyes...

"Mother, I'm here.  It's Janette.  I know what you've done, I know the sacrifice you have made to stay here.  I love you and I'm so thankful for that.  You can go now."

Within a few minutes of my mother's arrival my grandmother's peaceful breathing changed.  A pained expression came on her face.  It was as if her spirit had been allowed to leave that sick body during that peaceful time and now had to reenter, feeling the pain again.  In less than 5 minutes my grandmother quietly slipped away.

My father standing at the foot of the bed remarked,

"She was waiting for you."

A little over an hour later, my sister's and I arrived at my grandparents home.  With my husband's plane accident, I had not be able to witness that point when the spirit leaves the body, and in my heart I had wished to be there to experience that spiritual moment.  Yet I had also felt that the presence of too many of us would have distracted my mother and the siblings gathered at her bedside.  It was not what God had planned for me that day.

As I entered the room a sweet calming feeling filled me my head to my toes.  I could feel what I have come to refer to as "presence" in that room.  It was full of love.  It was full of family.  We quietly hugged my grandpa and went to my grandmother's bedside.  I touched her cheek and kissed her forehead which was still slightly warm.  She was so thin, but looked like an angel.

The tears began to flow. 

Not tears of sadness, but tears of gratitude...
for the wonderful person she was, and  
for the example of faith that she had set in her life.

As I quietly gazed at her still frame, I was filled with overwhelming love for my grandma and a deep understanding of the person she truly was inside.  A being not touched by mortal frailties.  I found a rocking chair and just sat, soaking in the love in the room.  I did not want leave for it so reminded me of heaven.  It was as if the door was still swinging from her departure and glimpse of light were still streaming into the room.

We gathered around her bedside and said a family prayer, and then it was time to leave.  As I left the bedroom, I left that feeling behind.  To me it was so stark when I crossed that threshold.

Sometimes there are things that we cannot explain.  They defy what we think of as normal.  We read the bible and believe that miracles occurred in those days, yet cannot fathom that they could still occur.  On my grandparent's 64th wedding anniversary when my grandmother departed this earth after 5 day of no fluid and only 10 minutes after her daughter's arrival, I can attest that a miracle occurred.

God is mindful of us.  He hears those secret prayers and longings of our hearts and is willing to compassionately grant them if we have been obedient to Him.  He loves those who are willing to serve him.  My grandmother was one of those people and so is my mother.  I am forever grateful for both of their examples to me.  They have taught me faith and obedience, and those lessons have carried me through the last 21 months.

Thank you grandma,  I love you!

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