I have blogged about a million times in my mind over the last few days, but it hasn't been easy to find the time and the emotional energy to really give voice to my heartache. This probably won't be eloquent, but I just want to get out on "paper" some of my thoughts about my wonderful Grandma Ruth.
I know it probably sounds strange to say that her death was unexpected seeing as she was 95, but for all of us who knew and loved her, it was very unexpected. I knew she was sick and in the hospital, but she was one of the strongest people I had ever known, and every time she had gotten very sick in the past, my Gram found a way to will herself back to health. I found out on Friday morning that she really wasn't improving like the doctor wanted her to, but even after I decided to head up to PA to be with her, I still didn't believe that she would actually pass away. Most every conversation I have had with my Gram in the last few years always involved me threatening her if she ever dared to die. She would always laugh and remind me that sometime she would, but it probably wouldn't be any time soon. A world without my Grandma Ruth seemed inconceivable - so much so that Mark learned to preface any reference to such an event as "if Grandma Ruth dies...". Using the word "when" offended my very sensibilities.
I was able to spend time with my Gram before she passed away, and was able to sit near her when she took her last breath. When the inevitability of her passing finally registered, my only prayer was that God would honor such an amazing woman with a passing that was worthy of her amazing life. He answered that prayer - she died peacefully surrounded (literally surrounded) by just some of the family who knew and loved her. We were all heartbroken in that room, and continue to be. Being loved by my Gram was an astounding blessing, and an inheritance I wouldn't trade for any amount of money. She was a rock, the matriarch of the family, a joy, a cheerleader, tough and strong, and funny. She left 12 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren, and every one of us would swear we were her favorite (pity the others who are still walking in false hope...). She loved that well.
At the funeral many people commented on her age, but the thing about Gram that was most remarkable was not the quantity of her years, but the quality. She walked through some very, very dark times but always maintained her faith in God and her love for her family. She didn't find a cure for cancer or resolve any looming world crises, but she loved her family with a life changing love. I don't know that there was ever anyone who met my Gram who didn't like her. Of course, I wouldn't want you to confuse her likability with anything resembling timidity - oh no. Gram told it like she saw it. She was the queen of speaking the truth in love. But always, always with truth came love.
When I read her obituary in the paper, I couldn't help but feel sorry for those who would read it and just think, "Wow. A 95 year old." Nothing you can print in black and white will ever do justice to what my Grandma really did in those 95 years. Nothing I can say here can convey how all my cousins and their children felt saying good-bye to our beautiful Grandma Ruth. Yes, she is certainly in a better place seeing clearly and reunited with my grandfather, but oh...there is a hole that nothing will ever fill until we see her again. She was the very definition of "beautiful", and the world isn't quite as lovely now that she is gone.
Coming back home was good for me in the sense that there is comfort in routine and also because I learned that I could stand by her casket all day and all night for months and still have sorrow in my heart for the loss. I know life goes on (and I can totally hear my Gram's voice chastising me, "Oh for heaven's sake! Get on with it!"), but life will never be the same. The Bible tells us that the Lord gives and takes away, and last week He took one of the most precious people in my life. I know what He gave me through her has forever changed my heart and life, and I know there is an immeasurable blessing. I was loved by a great woman. And she was loved by many.