While I realize that this blog has evolved into a church media spot, today I will go a bit more personal. You see, today marks 4 years since my mother passed away after a brutal fight with lung cancer. Most days, I feel like I’ve gotten passed most of the sadness, but then April 26th. rolls around and it all comes running back.
My oldest daughter called me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I had a moment for her to read something for me. After hearing it, I asked her if I could honor her grandmother by posting here today (thank you, Larissa):
I got the call on Thursday, April 26, 2007. I’d been anticipating it for weeks – months really. I was on edge any time my phone rang. I knew it was coming, but even as my dad’s number flashed on my phone I wasn’t prepared for his words, “Grandma’s gone.” At 19 years old, I had yet to deal with death personally. I had never known such sorrow in my life before that April morning, and have yet to know it since.
I think I knew from an early age that they would kill her – the cigarettes. She certainly knew how to kill a pack and at her peak she killed 3 a day. Her life was ruled by her next cigarette break. Everything that came from her house reeked of cigarette smoke – clothes, gifts, and sometimes even baked goodies. I hated that smell. And at the end of her life, I think I hated that she slowly killed herself day by day ignoring the stench that I loathed.
After a night of crying, a test, and a two-hour trip to the airport, I was back in Phoenix for Grandma’s funeral, trying my best to balance grieving and studying for the final exams that awaited my return to school. Coming to terms with a new reality was a very long process that had only just begun.
One moment in my grieving that I will never forget was having the privilege to deliver the scripture reading at her funeral. It was a passage from the Book of Wisdom, an inclusion of the Catholic Bible, that I was not familiar with but knew, being the scripture of my Grandma’s life, would have been written on her heart. Maybe that’s why it took such a hold of me. It wasn’t some cliché passage I had heard repetitively in church so I could truly take in the words and the ideas behind them.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
As I stood on the stage of my grandparents’ church, I could hardly read these touching words through my tears. My tears were full of sadness and anger at the same time. My heart was breaking with the realization that she was truly gone, but I was angry that she could have prevented her death.
There are days when I miss her so much it hurts, like my wedding day when she wasn’t there to see her pearls as my “something old.” Other days it’s simple things like birdseed and honeysuckle that remind me of her. I know part of her will always be with me. I just wish she had fought her vice.
My plea to smokers: Some one loves you dearly… perhaps many do. Don’t cut your time with them any shorter than it has to be. I know that quitting smoking is one of the toughest things you can go through, but it’s so worth it.