The past few weeks have been harder than most. About a month ago, my Gram told my mother that she wasn’t feeling well and that she wanted to go to the hospital. The next thing I knew, I was on an airplane flying to Pittsburgh because her trip to the hospital revealed very aggressive stage 4 cancer.
I remember walking into the hospital room and my grandma looked at me and said, “Don’t you worry about me, Lia! The Lord will take care of me- He always has.” I held her hand and grappled for the hope that was anchoring her soul. In that moment, I prayed, “Lord, where are You in this room right now?” In that moment I felt His gentle presence in between my Gram and I and I heard, in my soul, “Jesus wept.”
The doctor proceeded to tell us that she had weeks, maybe months, left to live. I asked my dad later that evening if my grandmother was coherent because she had no reaction to the doctors dark words. He assured me that she understood completely but that she had already told the doctors and the family, before I arrived, that she trusted the Lord and in His will for her life.
I remember a few days later, the nurse was helping her walk to the bathroom and I heard my Gram whisper, “The Lord is my strength, the Lord is my strength” over and over again as she struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Never complaining, never saying, “Why me, God!?” Always rejoicing in Him, always trusting in who He is.
One of the last times I saw my grandmother, my family and I were sitting around her hospital bed and we began to sing some of her favorite Christmas carols. As I sang, I watched her as she raised her hands as much as she could and worshipped. When we finished singing, she left her hands raised and simply repeated, “Thank You, Jesus. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus.”
Later on, my mom and aunts had to ask her if they should take her off fluids because the cancer was so rough and she could no longer eat or drink anything. She looked at my mom and said, “Let me think about this… well I think I’ve done everything Jesus wanted me to do here. So, I’d say I’m ready to go.”
She passed away a week later. In her final days, she prayed for everyone who came to visit her and called many family members to say goodbye and pray for them as well.
I’m not writing this just to boast about how incredible my grandmother was, though she was, but to share with you what it looked like for her to face death with Jesus at her side.
I was thinking on all of this- her attitude in death, and a small quote from Harry Potter came to mind. (sorry, I’m a nerd.) When talking about the man who originally was given the invisibility cloak, the story says in the end of his life, “He greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.” I had the thought that my grandmothers passing was much like the man in the story but then I realized just how wrong I was.
My Grandmother looked death in the face, laughed fearlessly, and followed Jesus into Eternal Life. Jesus beat death. He squashed it. He did it in His own death and resurrection and when He calls us to Himself and we dedicate our lives to Him, we too share in His victory.
This doesn’t come from typing “amen” on a special post on Facebook or by proudly shouting, “Merry Christmas!!!” In the face of someone who said, “Happy Holidays” or by using #prayfor_____ all over your social network. This type of fearlessness, in the face of death, comes from a life FULLY surrendered to the Lord and a lifelong daily relationship with Jesus. My Grandmother relied on Jesus for everything and spent hours upon hours at His feet every single day. She wasn’t perfect, but she held fast to Jesus in every season and storm.
At the end of her life, she knew that the Lord’s never ending love for her had already gone before her. It was the most natural thing for her to go from this life to an eternity with her King, Savior, and greatest Friend.
I will miss her for the rest of my time on earth, but her legacy echoes through my life and throughout eternity. May her life and new life prompt your heart to cling to Jesus in a fresh way because of His great love for you, as it has mine.