Well readers…it has been a hot minute since I have tended to this little blog here! I have definitely missed it and apologize to anyone who may have been looking forward to my posts…but I guess you can say that I’ve been a bit busy…
Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life so far. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement the morning of. All of my nerves melted away the second I saw Jared though, at which point I became a bundle of excitement and happy tears. Surrounded by all of our friends and family, we pledged our love and promised to stay true to each other for the rest of our days. It was absolutely magical.
What made our wedding so special wasn’t my gorgeous Stella York dress, the perfectly color coordinated bridesmaid dresses and groomsman tuxes, the calla lilies, decorations, or delicious prime rib and chicken Oscar-although those things were all incredible if I do say so myself. No, what made our wedding so special is simply all of the love that was present. The deep love between Jared and I, and the joy that radiated from our friends and family. People flew across the country for us, ran around last minute to help, and one amazing woman in particular…well, she held on long enough to see her youngest granddaughter get married.
This is my grandmother.
Her name was Eileen Speedling and she died exactly two weeks after my wedding. Last year, the doctors informed us that she had a fast growing tumor in her throat. Treatment was unlikely to help so she refused it. No one knew how bad it was getting or how much pain she was in. At least, I sure didn’t know. At the wedding, she was laughing, dancing in her seat, and even had a couple glasses of wine! Alcohol…very unusual for my sweet, religious, no nonsense grandmother. But there she was, every time I would look over at her, delighted and serene as always.
My husband and I left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding. It was an amazing trip; we went on a Disney cruise and then to Disney World. Pure, romantic bliss for ten days…
I called my parents on our way home. My dad gave me the news. Hospice was brought into Grandma’s house-they said she had a couple of days to a week to live. She was in and out of sleep and when she was awake she could barely speak due to the tumor in her throat.
Jared and I went and said our goodbyes as soon as we were able. She was awake, but very out of it. I put on a brave face and smiled at her and she talked to me a bit. I couldn’t understand her though, and my aunt had to translate. She asked me if we had fun on our honeymoon and said she was glad we came. Sweet as ever, even through her suffering. That’s the kind of person my grandmother was.
I walked into the living room, shaken up but holding hands with my new husband. My aunt broke down crying and I gave her a hug. We sat for a bit and I listened to the story of my grandmother getting her last rites. She was not at all afraid to die; quite the opposite. My fearless, faithful grandmother was ready and actually looking forward to it. She even asked the priest “What time does the bus leave?” once he finished the sacrament, and asked my father and aunt, “does anyone want to come along?” She had quite the sense of humor, my grandmother.
Her faith gave my entire family strength for what was to come.
The next morning I called my mother.
My grandmother was gone. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by my father and his sisters.
Six days later was the funeral.
How strange it was to be back in the very same church we were in just three weeks ago, with all the same people, under such different circumstances. The funeral service was led by the very same priest that married Jared and me. The tears we were all crying were not happy tears this time.
Joy: to be married to the love of my life and starting our new life together. Grief: for my last living grandparent gone home to Heaven. Happiness: knowing that my grandmother is at peace with God and all of her loved ones again. Loss: staring at her empty seat next to my aunt at Thanksgiving. The past two months have been a confusing whirlwind.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.
It’s been hard to juggle so many feelings at once, but I guess that is a part of life. I know my grandmother would not want me to feel guilty for being happy in spite of her death. She lived a full life and I know now she wants me to do the same. And wow, do I have an example to follow! Together with my grandfather she founded the local fire department years and years ago. She was a talented painter, owned her own ceramics shop, was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and never wavered in her faith. I hope to be half the woman she was one day.
I won’t let you down, Grandma. I’m glad we got to laugh together one last time, and I know the day will come where we will again.