At work today, I served a lovely German lady who had just come over for a vacation in Toronto. I told her that my Grandmother was from Lubeck in the North of Germany, and showed off my amazing ability to count to ten in German. My Gramma taught me a little German while I lived with her, and was always trying to get me to practice it more.
My Gramma was the sort of woman who would give anyone the shirt off her back if they needed it. She was a servant through and through–serving on the Ladies Auxiliary, with the Canadian Legion, etc. She used her amazing skills in the kitchen to bless others whenever she could. She would always make massive quantities of food and distribute it to her family whenever she was “just in the neighbourhood”. She never stopped giving, loving, and encouraging others.
My Gramma taught me what it means to be selfless. She put herself after everyone else, always thinking of the needs of others. She loved with a quiet love—never overbearing, never demanding, never overpowering. She used the word “love” sparingly, and when she said it you knew it meant something. I count it as one of my greatest blessings to have been loved by her. Her life was never an easy one, always riddled with trials and stress, but she had joy despite all of that. She truly was the best mother I could have asked for, and I’ll be lucky to become half of the woman she was.
Two years ago today, she passed away. I went into a numb hibernation that day, knowing that my entire life from there on in would be different. I couldn’t just call her when I was walking to school. I couldn’t go home on a weekend and watch Jeopardy with her. I would never eat dinner with her again. I would never hear her laugh at my ridiculousness. She would never ask me to water the flowers again. Mostly, I knew my greatest gift was gone, and I would have to live life without her. Nothing made sense. I took a big step back from God and everyone else I loved in order to keep myself protected. I felt her absence in every area of my life.
CS Lewis wrote a book on grief after losing his wife, and in which he wrote “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” And that’s how it felt. That’s how it still feels. Even though time has made it easier, as it always does, I feel that she’s not here. I notice her absence in the mundane and significant moments. When someone is that amazing, that lovely, that beautiful through and through, you can’t help but feel the massive loss. I think in some ways, I’ll always feel that.
But I’m also incredibly blessed to feel that desperately sad. I’ve loved someone very deeply. I’ve trusted and admired someone so much. I have been given an amazing earthly example of grace, patience, and humility. The ways in which my Gramma reflected Christ blows me away most times. And for her, I will always be thankful. I will mourn the ways in which I didn’t honour her better, or offer her my gratitude more, but I will rejoice in the fact that I had the time I did with her. She changed my life in her living and her death. Her rich life gave me reason to wake up, come out of hiding, and embrace living again. For that, and so much more, I will always be sincerely thankful.