This is the third and final installment of The Greatest Gift. If you have not read part one or two, please scroll down to the posts below this one.
Everyone began telling my grandma good-bye and made their way out of the house. Jeff stayed for a little longer and then went home. The nurse, Shirley, would be staying the night as well. When everyone had gone, I looked at my grandma and said, “Well, it is just you and me, the way we always have liked it to be." The thing that struck me the most was how hot my grandma’s hands were. As I held them, the sensation I felt was stronger than before, but the heat coming off of her hands was incredible. I then decided that I would play the song that I had finally found a couple of days before. I placed my phone to my grandma’s ear and played her the song, "It is Well with My Soul." I am not sure if she heard it or not, but I like to think that she did.
I then decided that I needed to get some rest, so I lay down on the bed next to my grandma’s hospital bed. As I was lying there, Jeff sent me a text. He had a message from God for me. This may sound strange, but this is something that Jeff and I do. God will send him a message and then Jeff will relay it to me. The message was very simple. Jeff said, “God wanted me to tell you that the crowd is gathering.” I knew instinctively what the message meant, but I do not think I processed it completely. It was 11:11 and I went to sleep.
At 1:11, I woke up and checked on my grandma and she seemed fine. She had not made any sounds since I had gone to sleep. I lay back down and was awoken by a shove at 2:40. When I opened by eyes, I saw Shirley standing over the bed with a slight smile on her face and she said, “Her heart beat is shallow and her breathing is erratic. I thought you would want to know.” I said, “Okay” and then sat up on the edge of the bed and gathered my thoughts and quickly realized what Shirley was telling me. I sat in the chair next to my grandma’s hospital bed and took her hand and watched her. Her breathing was very erratic. She would take a breath and then there would be a pause and she would take another breath. I immediately began praying again. I continually prayed, “Thank you for giving me such a wonderful grandma.” Each time she would take a breath, I would wait for her to take another, wondering if she would breathe again. This continued for a few minutes. It was like watching a clock whose battery was dying and the ticking was getting slower and slower.
At 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 22, 2016, she took a final breath and did not breathe again, and I realized that God had come to get her. I sat there for a moment and then looked at Shirley with tears streaming down my face and said, “I know everyone says this, but no one had a better grandma than I did.” Shirley smiled and nodded and then I felt the next words that I was to speak bubbling up inside of me. I tried to suppress them for a moment until the urgency to speak became too great and I said, “The battle has been won!” I was immediately reminded that my grandma had said those exact words when her mother had died. I sat there for a moment longer holding my grandma’s hand and repeating my prayer of gratefulness until Shirley said, “You call your mom and I will call the hospice nurse.” I called my mom and told her what had happened and then called Jeff.
While I was waiting on them to arrive, I sat with my grandma a little longer and let the miracle that I had just witnessed sink in, and I realized that I had just received the greatest gift that I will ever receive. I realized in that moment that God had always planned for it to be her and me at the end, and I was filled with so much thankfulness and gratefulness that I was there. I will never forget it, and I will never stop thanking God for allowing me to be witness to such a miraculous event.
People have told me how brave and strong I was to stay with my grandma until the end, and I always say the same thing, “If the roles had been reversed she would have done the same for me” and then I add, “There is no other place that I would have rather been.” I know deep in my soul that is true. I can say that I was with my grandma when she left this world. I can say that I was there when she took her final breath, and I can say that I saw God take her home. Even typing those words fills me with such gratefulness.
I have leaned so much from watching my grandma live her life, and I also learned so much from watching her leave this earth. She never stopped showing me how to live, and now she has shown me how to die. She has shown me that there is no fear in death, and she has shown me that I should never be afraid of death. She has shown me that through it all we can be thankful and that when the road gets too bumpy for us to walk that God will carry us. He was certainly carrying me that morning, and I know now that He will carry me all the days of my life. It is like the song says, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.” We should all remember those words. We should remember to be grateful when everything is going well and when everything seems to be out of control. We should all try a little harder to understand that every situation that comes our way is meant for us, the good and the bad, and we should accept it and allow it to make us better people.
Living without my grandma is not easy. I know that it will get easier, but right now it is difficult. That is the thing about my grandma. She was 90 years old and that is a very long life, but she never stopped being a force or presence in my life. So many times as people get old they begin fading away and my grandma never did that. She was always there. There has never been a time in my life that I do not remember her being there, until now. I know that she will always be with me in the spiritual sense, but I will never feel her earthly body again. That does make me sad, but my sadness is very often replaced by happiness for her because I know that she is at peace and she is in Heaven and she will never be sad, have pain or doubt or fear again. She is free, and she is watching over me, and I know that I will see her again. I will never talk to her again or sit and watch TV with her again. I will never laugh with her or hug her again on this earth, but I know that one day I will spend eternity doing all of those things with her and that time will never run out again. This was my lot in life and it is well with my soul. When I realize that and let it take hold of my soul, I have peace and PEACE MATTERS!
In loving tribute:
The battle has been won!