It’s been about six week since my grandfather died, and little by little, I’ve been finding some peace.
The night I received the phone call from my mom, though, I felt a sense of panic that I wasn’t used to. It wasn’t grief initially, but fear. I was gripped with near-terror over where my grandfather “was.” Had he gone to Heaven? Was Heaven even real? Was God really going to come through on all this?
For years, my mom and I worked as a team in keeping my grandfather healthy and happy. I questioned doctors, took endless notes, asked myriad questions. I had at least that much control over what we would plan, decide, and do as a family. But on the night of March 26, that changed. The loss of my grandfather was a loss of control. I no longer could be his advocate or his caretaker, and it floored me.
What I want to share with you is part of the beautiful reflection my friend Joe Kay sent me via e-mail. It meant the world to me, and I hope you find it meaningful, as well. Thank you, Joe.
Basically, I think of Creation as many threads in a blanket, all separate yet woven together tightly. He may be on a different thread right now, but he’s still bound closely to you, touching you, squeezing you. If you listen, you will still feel him.
It’s interesting that we have different words for birth and death, yet they’re two different words for the same thing. Think about it for a second. Suppose someone could have visited you the day before you were born. And they told you about the amazing world you were already part of, just hadn’t yet experienced. Sunsets. Sunrises. That wonderful smell of coffee in the morning. The wonderful touch of a breeze on your skin, or the touch of someone you love. Light. Cold. Warmth. Love. It would have sounded like some fairy tale, no? Because at that moment in your experience, all you knew was darkness. You floated around in a little puddle of fluid. All those other things would have seemed like some fantasy. And if you were told that the reason you hadn’t yet experienced any of those amazing things was because you were literally growing inside your parent, you would have said: What are you smoking? It would have seem so surreal as to be silly. Yet, it was true. And one day later, you were born into a more complete experience of the world, a world which had been there all along for those nine months; you just hadn’t been able to experience it fully. The doctor cut the cord, and your parent reached out and pulled you close and with a tear-stained cheek kissed you and told you how much she’s waited a lifetime for this very moment.
Well, the analogy is: We’re still in our little three-dimensional womb. There is something much more amazing out there. We can’t comprehend it, but that’s OK. We’ve been in that situation before. We just have to trust. And when our time in this womb is complete, we cut the cord with this world, so to speak, and waiting there for us is God, with outstretched arms and tear-stained cheek, waiting to pull us close and hug us and tell us how much God has waited an eternity for this very moment.
How did Francis put it? In dying we are born to eternal life?