For the past two years, I have come back home to Kansas City in mid-October for about a week. This is so I can see my friends and family that I have been apart from for the rest of the year.
This year, I made a particular effort to see my grandmother. Now I’m glad that I did.
The day I flew in, my mother and I went to the nursing home where she was living. She didn’t know that I was going to be there, but she was surprised and delighted to see me.
She remembered my name. She asked me about work, and why I’d cut my hair. She tried so very hard to converse with me without getting confused. I knew that she was so thrilled to see me that she wanted to talk about everything that had been happening in my life, how work was going, how I loved my job, if I had any more pictures. But, unsurprisingly, her body failed her. I could tell she was frustrated; how do you tell someone you love them if you can’t remember the words?
But it didn’t matter if she couldn’t say them. I hugged her before I left, and she held me just as tightly as she always did. I knew she loved me; she showed me more than her words could express.
I have no wise expressions or flowery words to say to you right now. So, instead, I leave you with a poem. A friend of mine who passed away from cancer ten years ago last month wrote it. To me, it says that, although we may grieve for someone we have lost, we are not mourning the life of the one who has left; no, instead, we mourn for ourselves, for the joy we will never know.
A Poem Written by John Beaven in the spring of 1997
Life was once so symmetric
Everything continuing on a fixed path
A pattern a rhythm, a fluid journey
Suddenly knocked off the steady road
The story changes abruptly,
Life becomes uncertain.
The pieces of the puzzle fitting perfectly together
Now scattered almost hopelessly
The soul now being tested,
Only faith keeping you alive.
A dark, frightful tunnel seems to forever run
But a light now beginning to yield the way
The burden now being lifted.
A weight on the shoulders eases its intensity
A ball and chain which kept you briefly helpless is released.
Life once again is back on the path,
The puzzle pieces now fitting together
The same pieces, but now a different picture.
Nana was a beautiful, strong woman, who became trapped in a shell of her former self. But now, her suffering, and the suffering of those around her have ended. She has been released, and we would do well to remember that she has released us as well.
I love you Nana. And I will miss you everyday. But as a friend of mine told me, now you can watch me perform from the best seats in the house.