But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus.
~ Philippians 3:20.
I was trying to follow my usual morning routine last Monday morning (November 12) when my mother came up stairs to tell me that Sweet Nan had gone to be with God. Relief swept over me knowing that it was finally over, yet, as quickly as that relief came, was it suddenly replaced by overwhelming sadness.
For those first few minutes breathing seemed harder. It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. Never before have I felt such heaviness, never has my heart hurt so much. It's the deepest pain I have ever felt. The news was a kick in the guts. It felt like I had been winded by a soccer ball to the stomach. I was finally forced to believe what I didn't want to.
I wrote this in my journal a week before she went to God:
Monday November 5th 2012
"Sweet Nan went into hospice care on Saturday. I woke up yesterday morning with tears streaming down my face because I had expected her to go during the night, but she has made it through the weekend and now it seems she'll be sticking around a little longer. This dragged out process sucks. Because she is still here I find it difficult to believe this is really happening. Part of me hopes that she won't die - that she'll make some miraculous, medical astounding recovery. It's hard to believe that she has gone to hospital to die. It's hard to believe that she won't be coming back home. It's hard to believe that I won't see her again in this life. She's still here, and I don't know how to feel. When she does slip away, I'll be forced to face the reality of this situation and that scares me because I don't know how I'm going to do that. Right now it's difficult to grasp reality. It's just too hard to believe. It's just all too hard."
I knew this time would come eventually, but I just couldn't imagine it. I liked life the way it was and I wanted things to stay the same. In this week since her passing I've realised just how much I wanted Nan to stay here with us. I longed to keep her.
I wrote in my journal again the day that she finally left us:
Monday November 12th 2012
"Beautiful, Sweet Nan is gone. Gone. Not coming back. I can't call her house and hear her voice. I can't drive up and drop in for an afternoon visit to watch the cooking shows with her. I can't show her my nails anymore - and I still want to do all of these things. She's not here to tell me that the top I'm wearing is pretty and ask me where I bought it from. I'm finally forced to believe that Sweet Nan won't be around anymore, and it's so damn hard. I knew it was coming, but it's still a shock. All these emotions are attacking me at once and I don't know what to do. Do I feel angry, upset or relieved? Do I scream, cry and hide away from the world for a while? Do I sit in the darkness and surrender to the sadness until I can cry no more? Or do I busy myself and welcome distraction? My heart feels so heavy. Oh Lord, it hurts. Oh Lord, it hurts."
Accepting that I'll never see her again in this life makes me ache deep inside, but I am reminded that this life and what we have here on earth is oh so temporary. I understand now more than ever that we were made for so much more and there's no doubt in my mind that there is life after death.
I've been listening to Heaven Is Here by Jesus Culture a lot this last week. The lyrics are powerful and they remind me to hold onto the hope that is heaven.
‘Cause Heaven is here now
He’s all around us
Heaven is Jesus
It’s the moments we need
Wake up the normal life
You can do whatever You want to
Shake up eternal sight
Because we want You
How wonderful it is that we are promised eternal life and everlasting love in God, and that nothing can ever separate us from Him.
I find comfort in knowing that Sweet Nan is right where she belongs now - in God's presence. Heaven is her home. And I know that I'll see her again.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the sadness, I'll remember how much she loved worshipping God. I'll think about the huge celebration taking place in heaven and how happy she must be walking through the streets of gold (although my human mind will never fully comprehend it). I'll focus on the goodness of God and His promise of the indescribable place He has prepared for her (and for me one day). I'll live with the mind blowing knowledge that she is free of pain and sickness, perfectly whole and perfectly at peace now.