I do not need airplanes in the night sky like shooting stars; I make my own wishes come true. I’m well aware of the bold narcissism exhibited in this comment but sometimes you just have to take that attitude. Sometimes that’s exactly what it takes to start over again.
Let’s backtrack, shall we?
The day after Christmas my mother and I drove half way across the state to find out what was going on with my grandmother. Instinctively, I knew that she was dying. Later my mom told me that she felt the same thing.
I’ve always felt a distinct disdain for my mother’s parents. No, it was stronger than that. I hated them. Feel free to surmise why and you’ll probably have at least one piece of the puzzle correct. I cannot explicitly say what, though, because it’s NMI (not my information).
We went thinking that we were going to have to tell this silly, stubborn woman what to do and get her to the hospital. The situation was so much worse than we could have imagined, though. We didn’t imagine that she would die a week from that day.
That night I got out my mom’s laptop at the hospital and wrote a post detailing all the truly gory details. Yesterday, I deleted that post.
Over the week I spent in the hospital with my grandmother, my opinion of her changed completely. It turned out that she was not the selfish, bitter woman I had always thought she was. Separated from her husband, she was a very different person.
I ended up learning about how much abuse she had suffered from multiple people. I had always known that my great-grandfather had been hard and cruel when he was young but I had never known him that way.
To me and my mother he was the sweetest, most generous and caring man we had ever known. He’s one of the few people I’ve ever heard of authentically changing so completely that they are unrecognizable. He was the picture of Christian repentance and transformation. For a long time I didn’t believe that he really had been that terrible man.
Whether we like it or not, truth is truth and he was once cruel. I like to think of him as being a bit like Dumbledore. Yes, I’m a nerd.
When my grandmother was sixteen, she dropped out of school because of debilitating anxiety. Soon after, she met and married my mom’s dad. She went from the home of one abuser to another.
She never had a chance.
She died of Stage IV unidentified Cancer because she was controlled by someone who believed in “pray it away” and because she couldn’t get past her own fear.
There was nothing we could do to save her. Her husband had been telling her for months that God had told him that she would be healed. All we could do was get her to the hospital and make her comfortable for the last days.
I walked out of there actually knowing her and loving her. I also walked out with a true sense of just how tragic both her life and her death were.
In the car, on the way to my uncle’s house, I wrote “In Veritas, Libera” on my arm. It means “In Truth (In Latin), Freedom (In Italian).” My brain was so fried by the end that I didn’t realize I was mixing languages. Oh well.
We couldn’t save her but we can find some redemption in taking a lesson from her life.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that 2011 would be the year in which I get what I want. I’m revising that now to this lifetime being the life in which I get what I want.
My mother and I agreed that the best thing we can do to honor her now is to live without fear and never back down from what we dream of. She lived believing that if she sat, waited, and prayed with enough faith, things would be delivered. I won’t sit and wait. She also lived in fear, seclusion, and under the control of a man I still hate. I won’t repeat the mistakes of earlier generation. I’ll live and teach my someday-to-exist-children (yeah, that’s changed) to live without fear. Seek truth and live free. I may not know what absolute truth is, but I won’t be bound by what it’s not.
The brand of Christianity by which she lived, a brand that had been twisted and manipulated for the purposes of others, is something I will never touch again. Though the week in the hospital taught me that I might still believe a little more than I thought I did (I had to argue theology to get her to the hospital, to get my mom’s dad to accept that she needed pain medicine, to help her come to peace with the fact that she was dying, and to help my uncle do the same), I’m more determined to make all of my choices in life more deliberately and with well thought out reasons.
I. Love. This.
I'm sorry you had to experience such a loss, but it sounds like through your grandmother's passing you were given a great gift.