Tuesday, April 01, 2008

After the good-byes ...

This is long, I'll warn you now. If you're only interested in the picture of the card I made today, it's at the end. Feel free to scroll down and skip the other stuff if you're not interested ...

Well, the crazy week of Granny’s funeral and burial is over (last week), all the out-of-town family and friends have gone, and life has now moved into the “new normal,” which, I guess for awhile, will be an age of adjustment. Grief is a very weird thing, we’re all discovering. I can go from acceptance to rage at her death in less than 6 seconds (better than the world’s fastest race car!), and can be “just fine” and suddenly find myself irritated at the smallest things (that have nothing to do with her or death or any of that stuff). We (my parents and I) have been reading books about grief, and it’s helping us to understand that what we’re feeling is normal and that we shouldn’t try to squelch any of it or ignore it. So, yeah, it’s gonna be a long, strange journey.

Granny’s services were just beautiful. Our pastor is such an awesome guy, and he turned her funeral into a wonderful celebration of her life that just really uplifted all of us. I was privileged to be able to sing three songs – one called “Others” that is an old hymn describing the selfless life. I had never heard of it before, but Mom said it was one they used to sing when she was a young girl in the Methodist church, and since it perfectly describes Granny, she wanted me to do it. I also sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” a hymn that has become sort-of the “theme song” of our family, because God has shown His faithfulness to us in so many ways throughout the years. Then at the end of the service I helped lead the attendees in “How Great Thou Art.” I did just fine on the first two – totally a God Thing there! – but I wasn’t sure I would be able to do the last one. It came after the pastor’s message, and in the middle of his message he played a song by Steve Green (another of Mom’s choices) called “May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful,” and I totally lost it on that song. The words were so moving, and all the tributes to Granny, etc. had been so sweet … it all just grabbed me right in the heart. Fortunately I had two other women helping lead the last song, so I was able to make it through, but it wasn’t easy!

The graveside service was short, but also beautiful in its own way. Our pastor went all the way out to West Texas to do it (he’s an awesome guy). I sang again, this time “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (the way Joann Hogg of “Iona” fame does on her solo album), and “Blessed Assurance.” I did the first one a’capella and then the pastor played his guitar on the second one and we had everyone who knew it join in. It was a bit breezy, but then it wouldn’t have been West Texas without wind! The temps were perfect, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing their little hearts out for Granny. She loved birds, so it was sweetly fitting that they were part of the service!

It was VERY hard to leave her behind once it was all over. Even though we know she’s not in that body, that it’s just the shell that the Real Granny spent her earthly years in, it still just ripped my heart out to drive away knowing that I would never again see her on this earth, never again be able to put my arms around her, kiss her precious wrinkled face, hear her call me “Stacy Lee” again, all those things that we take so for granted when our loved ones are with us! I tried to comfort myself by thinking that Granddaddy finally didn’t have to lay out there in that flat, barren cemetery alone, but it didn’t help much.

So, yeah. This isn’t what I thought I would be doing in 2008. Somehow I just thought my Granny would live forever, that she was immune to this death thing that everyone else has to go through. Sometimes it seems really so unfair, even knowing she was 95, even knowing she is SO much better off now, even knowing that I could never deprive her of the pure joy she is experiencing now in the presence of her Savior. Selfishly, I wanted to keep her here with me forever. And I want to keep my Mama and Daddy with me forever, and my husband, and my son … the list goes on. I hate death. Even with the promise of heaven on the other side, I think death is a stupid idea. Thanks a lot, Eve.

Anyway, at least now I’m finding that creativity is a good release. I spent the day today making 32 cards – one “for fun” and the others (all the same) for my Mom and I to use as thank-you notes to all the wonderful people who have sent flowers, meals, or helped us in so many other ways. The thank-you cards are simple – just one layer – but I liked that about them. They seemed fitting, somehow. So here’s a sample of one. Stamps are by Club Stamp and Stampin’ Up! The colors used were Perfect Plum and Pale Plum, with a little Elegant Eggplant thrown in (Granny’s favorite colors were pinks and purples – I don’t do pinks well, thus the plums).

Tomorrow I’ll post the other card. It’s getting late and I’ve already written a book here, so I’ll spare you any more for now! Oh! And I'll have a big announcement to make, if I remember (no, I am NOT pregnant!!). I wanted to wait until after April Fool's Day to make it, so there would be no question of its veracity.

Until then ...

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