Buzzz. I looked down at my backpack to see my father’s face appear on the screen. I coughed, hoping to distract from the buzzing disruption. Silence. Glancing at the clock, I continued editing. Buzz. Why on earth was he calling? He knew I was in class. I fumbled in my backpack and turned my phone on silent. Dad never called repeatedly unless something was wrong. I slowly started to panic, thinking the worst possible.
When class finally ended, I grabbed my phone and went through my notifications – five missed calls. I hurried to my dorm room, dialing as I walked. Come on, Dad, pick up.
“Hi Dad, you tried to call? Is everything okay?”
“I’m afraid not, Sweetie. I’m in New York right now with Grandma – she’s in hospice. She has less than 24 hours to live.”
Tears spilled as I collapsed in a nearby chair, trembling with confusion. I sobbed over the phone, letting the reality sink in. How would I say goodbye?
“Honey, we can video chat so you can say goodbye to Grandma.”
But I didn’t want to see her over video chat; I wanted to say goodbye in person. The next few hours consisted of tears and booking a last-minute flight to New York. My sister and I agreed to meet up at the Minneapolis airport before our connecting flight. I found a suitcase and threw a pile of clothes in before grabbing my wallet and keys. Hours drug on as I prayed for one last visit with Grandma before she passed. But two hours before I landed in New York, my father informed me that Grandma had already peacefully gone to sleep. It felt as if my heart had exploded with grief.
As we made preparations for Grandma’s funeral, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not having kept in better touch. I spent the day sifting through old photos before stumbling upon a particular photograph. It was a picture of me in the flowerbed next to Grandma, weeding in my sun hat and apron.
Three days later, when the funeral came to a close, friends and strangers expressed their condolences. I stood by Grandma’s grave, wishing I had been able to say goodbye. A soft autumn breeze rippled through my curls, drying my tear-stained cheeks. As quickly as the breeze floated past, familiar sweet words hung in the air – Consider the Lilies. It was a hymn my grandmother used to sing. I remember the words so distinctly because she’d sung it almost every month at church.
“Consider the lilies; they don’t toil nor spin. But there’s not a king with more splendor than them . . .”
It’s been three years since my Grandma passed, and I find myself still repeating those familiar words. I’ll often repeat them when driving, working in the garden, or running errands. Even though she’s gone, I feel peace whenever I hum the sweet tune. It can be extremely difficult to move on and only have the remembrances of a loved one. And despite our desperate attempts to heal, sometimes the only comfort we can receive is the promise that Christ will return soon. I’m so looking forward to that day!
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NIV).
Madeleine Lowe writes from the Midwest.
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