I stood in the center of the living room with the front door open. Most of the family was waiting with me. We were trying to load up the car in time to visit my children’s grandmother, who was in the ICU.
As we waited impatiently I called out to my daughter once again.
“Brooke, honey, hurry up, we have to go!”
I heard her before I saw her. As she made the turn around the corner, I noticed she was dragging something.
“Brooke, what are you dragging?”
With all the effort she could muster, she pulled the pillowcase over her small shoulder. Were it not for her low center of gravity, she would have surely toppled over.
“It is my money from my piggy bank, Daddy. I’m going to give it to the doctor so he can make grandma better.”
As I walked toward her, I glanced into her room. There on the floor was her piggy bank, along with the plastic stopper and a few scattered coins.
I bent down, lifted my daughter and carried her to the car. I tried to make sure my tears found the pillowcase.
That became our routine for a while – sitting in waiting rooms and waiting for the clock on the wall to allow us to visit grandma.
How ironic it is that when time is so short, we are rationed time and suddenly realize its value.
Between those hospital visits, we prayed for God to heal grandma and hoped fervently that each visit would reward us with some sign of improvement. I quoted the scriptures about healing as I cried out to God, because I knew He could heal her. He is, after all, the Balm of Gilead.
We shared the waiting room with other families in similar situations. Formerly complete strangers suddenly sharing and bonding over this intersecting portion of our circle of life. While we waited, I recalled the stages of grief I was taught long ago in some class. I was younger then, and had not lived long enough for those stages to have meaning. But now I understood all too well the objectives of that lesson.
I tried to identify the various stages within each family member. I longed for the right words of encouragement for each stage, but words failed me. Instead, I prayed for peace, for mercy, and eventually for God’s will.
You find yourself going through what you once were certain you could never endure. It is during those “single footprints in the sand” moments when we later realize that God was carrying us. I am reminded that He is familiar with our sorrow and acquainted with our grief. Even in loss, His words comfort me. I know that grandma trusted in God, and that along with that trust comes promises He is eager to fulfill, promises that cannot be fulfilled on this side of life.
Perhaps my daughter described it best when she said, “Daddy, ‘die’ ain’t a word.”
She had to repeat herself because the words of a child are easily lost during times like that.
When she finally got my attention, she repeated herself.
“Daddy, ‘die’ ain’t a word.” I assumed she had not been able to find the word in a dictionary, but she clarified herself by stating. “If we live forever, then ‘die’ ain’t a word.”
I thought about the scripture my little girl was referring to – “Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” – and I thanked God for reminding me and comforting me through a little child. I know I will see her grandma again, and on that day, gladness will overtake me and sorrow and sighing will flee away.