My mother in law's little nagging cough has gone from mild pneumonia to stubborn pneumonia to a mystery disease that has her bedridden to septic in a hospital bed. My husband's (big) family is assembled in an ICU waiting room. When my father in law gets every one's attention and gives us a very grave report on my mother in law's condition, I, for the first time, allow my mind to entertain the possibility that she will die. The first person I thought of was Madison.
Maybe my thoughts should have been on my father in law, about to loose his wife of 32 years. Or my husband, about to say good bye to his mother at only 28 years old. And of course I was so sad for both of them. For everyone. Each of Christine's children. Her siblings. Her mother. Our church. Each of Christine's 14 grand children. I was sad for Eden, and for Leila who would never be held by Grandma. But most of all, I was so sad for Maddie. The thought continually running through my mind was How will I tell Maddie?
Almost every day of Madison's 3 and a half years of life, she spent some time, even if just a few moments. with her Grandma. She was as close to her Grandma as one so young could possibly be.
The next day, Seth and I sat on Maddie's bed and told her that Grandma had gone to Heaven. The thing about being a young child is that you can be honest about how you feel. You have no concern of impressing people by your reactions. You can be truthful and revealing because you don't care to sound spiritual, or accepting or well adjusted or whatever. And so, Maddie did and has let us just what she thinks.
Mom, I just want my Grandma to come back to Earth.
Why did my Grandma have to die?
Oh Mom, I just miss my Grandma!
I've heard these statements every single day, often multiple times a day. Maddie tells me about dreams she's had about her Grandma. Or she'll talk about the things her and Grandma did. We can't see any animals without talking about Grandma taking her to the zoo. We can't mention a conference without talking about when Grandma watched her or Grandma came along. Certain games, certain movies... we go through the ritual often. And it's been 5 months.
I had thought that due to Maddie's young age, she would bring up her Grandma less and less, and gradually stop altogether. But I was wrong. And I'm sort of glad that I was wrong. It's very sad to think that many of these little grand kids won't remember their Grandma. They truly had a terrific grandmother but she died before most of them got to even realize it. I wonder if Maddie is afraid she will forget? I can't pretend to understand what makes her little mind tick but I do know that she misses Grandma.
I come across offers for free photo books all the time. I usually make them full of pictures of the girls to send to my step dad. Last week I was thinking about Maddie and how she feels about her Grandma's death. I was also thinking about how I would let her know that her Grandpa is planning to remarry. An idea came to my mind... a Grandma Book. I put the (few) pictures I have of the girls with their Grandma, along with other family pictures in the book. I wrote a simple poem to accompany the photos. It won't win any writing contests but that was not the purpose anyway. It was just intended to help my girls.
My Grandma was quite wonderful,
Loving and wise and so content.
To me, she was so beautiful.
I loved the time with her I spent.
We'd work and play, hug and cuddle
for a movie or book of rhyme.
It never seemed like any trouble;
For me, Grandma always had time.
I would often hear her relay
bits of truth, both big and small.
"If you don't have something nice to say,
don't say anything at all!"
Grandma wanted me to do right.
To honor the name of McCoy.
And to serve the Lord with all my might!
This would bring both Grandma and me joy.
I miss my Grandma oh so much!
But since Jesus our sins has forgiven...
one day, we'll again hug and touch
when we're together in Heaven!