6.20.2016

this world is not our home



The summer of 1996 is the summer my family doesn't like to talk about. It was horrible and tragic, and even at 7 years old I could feel the weight of it. 20 years later, the summer of 2016 has followed the exact same pattern with nearly the exact same chain of events.

Yesterday morning, my precious grandma passed away. 20 years and 8 days after my grandpa.

She went to the doctor for a routine visit last August and walked away with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. It quickly metastasized to her brain, and 10 months later, she's gone. After already fighting and beating breast cancer 6 years ago. I'm eternally grateful my mom took Gracie and me out there last fall to say goodbye. The fact that four generations of us had the privilege of being together is something I will forever cherish. Even after the brain cancer had stolen her memory and motor skills, she always remembered Gracie. She never forgot her, and Gracie pictures were the one thing that would bring her happiness during her last days. So much grace. Our girl is living up to her name.

Grandma was one of the funniest people I've ever met, and most of the time she wasn't even trying to be. She would constantly put her foot in her mouth, realize what she said, and then laugh until she cried, along with everyone around her. When I was 8 years old, she gave me her childhood pearl necklace. We were sitting around the dinner table as she told me about it, and she tried to calculate how old the necklace was. It was given to her when she was 16, and as she did the math she sat there with a puzzled expression and asked "Now, how old was I when I was 16?" She was extremely intelligent and bright, but would have the silliest moments. My parents have always told me I'm exactly the same way. Whenever I've found myself deeply interested in something, my mom will always tell me it's something my grandmother loved, too. The older I've gotten, the more I realized how strong genetics are. I know she's never completely gone, because so much of her lives on through me. I think of her whenever I cook a meal for my family. That's the kind of thing she loved to do and the kind of thing she excelled at. She was as talented as Martha Stewart, but with a Texas drawl and fantastic sense of humor. I pray I learn to take care of my family the way she took care of hers.

She was raised in an orphanage in a tiny Texas town and grew up to marry her high school sweetheart, my grandpa who worked on Nasa missiles during the height of the Space Age. She worked as a Home Ec Teacher, sharing her passion for cooking and sewing and other domestic things. And she raised my mom, which is by far her greatest accomplishment. She lived on the coast of California most of her life, but she was forever a Texan. She always wore lipstick as strong as her thick southern drawl. Aside from my mom, she's the only person I knew who loved coffee as much as I do. She had a pair of glasses to match every outfit, and when I was in high school she gave me some of her own shoes she didn't deem comfortable enough, and I wore them all the time because her sense of style was that good.

Whenever we visited, she would take my mom and me to Santa Barbara for the day. I lived for our Santa Barbara days. We would drive south down highway 101 in the morning while we sipped on our lattes, the fog still resting on the ocean, and spend the morning shopping. We'd have lunch at our favorite Italian place, the one where she once spotted Steve Martin. We'd have a cup of afternoon coffee and a treat in a third floor cafe that looked out over the palm trees and mountains. I never felt more special than when I was old enough to spend the day with mom and grandma. We haven't been able to do that since I was in college, but I think about it every time my mom and I go to lunch with Gracie.

When my mom called me last August and told me the cancer diagnosis, I had been in the kitchen making cookies. I was stunned. We flew out a few weeks later to introduce her to Gracie and for me to see her one last time. As we watched the cancer take its toll, the phrase that kept whirring through my mind is "this world is not our home." As a Christian, I know it with every cell in my body and my whole soul. I'm so grateful she gave me my mother, who in turn spent the majority of the past three months in California caring for her, even though she was in the middle of her own cross-country move. Death has no victory, death has no sting. I'm grateful I had 27 years on earth with her, but it is no match for what is to come.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
SaveSave
SaveSave

18 comments:

  1. What an amazing tribute to your grandmother! I know she is proud of you and the woman you have become! I wish I could have met her- one day in heaven! Love you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Joellen! Love you so much!

      Delete
  2. I'm so sorry for your loss, Michelle!

    We have similar stories. I lost my grandma to cancer last year...one year and 7 days after my grandpa. Both at Easter time. I was also able to fly home and see her for the last time a month or so before she passed away. It was SO hard knowing it would be the last time I saw her this side of heaven, but a tremendous blessing to have that time with her. What a comfort to know that death has been defeated, and like you said..this world is not our home.

    Sending prayers for peace and comfort for your family!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You were beyond blessed with such a beautiful relationship with your grandma. I wasn't close to either of my grandmas, but I hope my children have a similar experience as you with my mom.

    I too have been reminded a lot lately that his is not our home. It can be a hard concept to accept sometimes, but it gives so much more hope to know that this isn't it! We have all of eternity with our Lord & that is something that brings joy even in the face of sorrow.

    I'm praying for you lady! Drink some coffee, bake some cookies & tell Gracie all about her great-grandma!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is an absolutely beautiful tribute to a very special woman. I can just feel it through your words- and what a blessing that she and Gracie were able to meet. Thinking of you and your family in this tough time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was such a beautiful post. I'm sending you a big hug.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, Michelle. I'm so glad you have such incredible memories with someone who sounds like an incredible person. This is definitely not our home, but it sounds like your grandmother made the absolute most of her time here. It sounds as though her very best qualities are being carried on through your mother and you- and I'm sure through Gracie!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, Michelle. She sounds incredible. I know I would have loved her because I love you and you are clearly one of her own. It is so hard to say goodbye for a season, but your faith in God and his love for you and your sweet family will get you through these difficult days. It's so wonderful to know that we will be with our family again, and I'm sure her reunion with your grandpa was sweet. Sending you love and keeping you in my prayers. <3

    ReplyDelete
  8. Look at how beautiful and happy she looks in those photos with you and Gracie! You two obviously brought out every bit of light she had inside of her. She sounds like a wonderful lady and this is a beautiful testament to her.

    Sending you, your mom, and the rest of your family lots and lots of love this week and always. Love you Shells!! <3

    ReplyDelete
  9. My grandma died four years ago from cancer. I'm so sorry. I'm glad that you were able to go to California and say goodbye. I love that she never forgot Gracie. There are so many things about life that I will never understand, but the biggest thing, I think, is how anyone deals with death and pain without the comfort and peace of the promise of eternal life. One of the songs that was played at Jordan's grandpa's funeral a few years ago was "Come to Jesus" and I can't listen to it without crying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gah. Hit "send" too soon. I love the truth of the lyrics of that song! Come to Jesus and live :)

      Delete
  10. Cancer is an ugly evil in this world, but our God is mightier! He is greater! Your words made me choke up, and I can feel how much you love her and how much you cherished your time together. You are absolutely right though, this world is not our home, and one day, you will see here again. I am so thankful you wrote this! Thinking of you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. She sounds like a beautiful person inside and out. What a wonderful thing that she was able to meet Gracie and that she brought her so much joy. I'm very close to my maternal grandma too. It's such a blessing. I know you are heartbroken and I'm praying for you. I don't know how people who don't have Christ get though things like this. It's the biggest comfort to know we will see our loved one again and to know that they are rejoicing in heaven and free of pain!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, girl. It gives me so much comfort to know death has been defeated. I wish everyone else could have the same assurance!

      Delete
  12. My heart hurts for you but I'm so so thankful for the promise of Jesus and heaven. I'm thankful that although you miss you grandma, she is whole and healthy and with her Saviour.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm so so sorry for your family's loss. This was a beautiful tribute to read and makes me miss my own grandmas quite a bit. I'm so glad that she got to meet that precious baby girl of yours <3

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh Michelle, my heart breaks for you. She sounds like the most amazing woman. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have been achig for you since she passed, Michelle. I'm so sorry. But I'm so glad that you got to make that last trip out, and that she got to meet her Great-Granddaughter. I'm sure that meant the world to her.

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me! If your email is linked to your account, I'll respond to you via email. If not, I'll respond to you right here.