Words normally come naturally to me. As an author, I live inside a world filled with bright colors, magical characters, and serene images that flow easily from my fingertips. There is rarely a time that I sit down and find myself unable to tell a story.
Today is much different. My heart is full of words that I long to say about someone I love, yet I find it difficult to pull them from the depths of my grief as I face the haunting lullaby of saying goodbye.
Naomi, my Mema, was a woman who may have been given the title of “grandmother”, but she was so much more than that to me, and to the world around her in general. She was my friend; a woman of great integrity, honor, unselfish love and deep faith.
I have so many fond memories of her from my childhood. The late night drives to McDonald’s for hamburgers, the blue coconut snow cones that my cousin Brad, invariably spilled every single time in the back seat of her Cadillac. Her mall walking t-shirts that she received for free from The Parks Mall that my cousins and I fought over every weekend as to WHO was going to sleep in said t-shirt. For the record, I normally lost the bet.
Her incredible salsa; although countless family members and friends have the recipe, none of them taste quite like Mema’s hot sauce. Her peanut patties made during Christmas, and the fruitcake…yes, the dreaded fruitcake that became just a little bit tastier when she insisted (even for the children) to add a little Mogen David wine to each slice for some “kick”.
In her final hours, I wanted to be by her bedside. We all grieve and let go differently, but for me personally, I needed to talk with her. As we held hands, I prayed over her, played her music…her favorites. Like Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”. She wouldn’t respond to my voice, but her spirit stilled while we sat together. The last words she ever spoke to me just days prior to her leaving this life were, “I love you darlin’”. Alzheimer’s had stolen my Mema…most of her sentences were broken words that made little sense. But those words…they made perfect sense, and I will relish them for the rest of my life.
I will end with a final thought…a sense of perfect peace I encountered the night before her death. My father took her hands in his and whispered words that I will hold private, for they were my final moments with my Mema. As she lay, eyes closed, soul fleeing, she raised her left hand to the heavens, holding it steady, reaching for her Maker…the perfect Prince of Peace, our Savior, our blessed Lord as the words of Jesus fell from my father’s mouth.
She will be laid to rest on Friday…Good Friday of all days. My youngest told me earlier, “Friday is Good Friday, Mommy. Now Friday won’t be good anymore.” I beg to differ. Good Friday is the day Jesus gave His life for us so that we may live with Him for eternity when our final breath is taken.
When His final breath left his broken body on the cross, our lives were instantly filled with His perfect peace. Our sins washed away by the blood of our Savior. Because of His final breath, our final breaths here on earth are the beginning of a new life. Death is the beginning of a greater life, much richer than our here and now.
I do believe in life after death, and I do believe that God prepared a special place in heaven for the light of a woman who’s life will be forever remembered. I just pray that I can live my life the same way Mema did…gracefully and fierce. Fierce in love, for there wasn’t a person on this planet she didn’t care about. For loving fiercely in a broken world is often hard to do, but she did it beautifully.
“Has the world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis