“Looks like it’s just you and me, Gma,” I found myself saying as I settled into the dark sedan. My grandmother couldn’t answer, of course, because she was lying peacefully in a coffin at the back of the car. I was given the honor of preaching at my own grandmother’s funeral about two weeks ago, and now it was time for me to ride with the funeral director to the graveside.
“Was that hard for you?” a lady at school would ask me later. I simply stared at her blankly. Of course it was hard…it always is to say good-bye to someone you love. And grief can cause you to do some crazy things (like having conversations with a coffin, for example). But finding ways to remember and cherish the many gifts that beautiful soul shared with you not only eases the pain, but adds an extra dose of sweetness to the spice of life.
These past two weeks I’ve wrapped myself in the comforting warmth of a blanket my grandmother crocheted for me like a cocoon – in spite of the sweltering New Mexico heat. I’ve had a strong desire to whip up a batch of Macaroni and Cheese (my Gma’s specialty) for my kids. And I’ve worked hard to establish myself as the reigning Scrabble champion at school.
Gma adored Scrabble – she even owned a personal copy of the Scrabble Dictionary – and she was impossible to beat. Now, in these last couple of weeks, I found myself playing countless Scrabble games with my English students. It became a school-wide phenomenon as entire classes (and other teachers) would team up to beat me. I did lose twice – only to discover later that the students had passed letters under the table! The students loved the challenge so much they’re now begging me to play Online Scrabble throughout the summer…I think my Gma would have been proud.
I watched my entire congregation grieve as we celebrated Memorial Day yesterday, and some avoided the service altogether because remembering is too painful. But God tells us to set up memorials to remember the important things (Joshua 4:1-7), and promises to remember us every moment (Isaiah 49:16).
To me, remembering is a beautiful thing – a way to honor those who have changed our lives through their love and sacrifice. I was inspired yesterday when our family hiked into the Organ Mountains and found this American flag waving proudly in the breeze:
Don’t be afraid to remember. Instead, embrace the memories you have of those who have touched your life – let those memories enhance your life, and inspire you to love others the way they loved you.
And know that God has written your name on the palms of His hand, so not a moment will pass when He doesn’t remember you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Scrabble game to dominate. This one’s for you, Gma!