Death never made much sense to me. The fact that one minute someone is there, full of life, and then the next minute they are gone. It just seems odd that a person can just stop existing, stop being present. And then people go and visit graves as if the departed is actually there, still present, when in reality its only the shell that contained them. The person left when the life within them gave way to death
I have never been to visit my grandmother’s grave. I now pass the cemetery several times a day and am reminded that her body is resting there. She was the first person close to me (well the only person really close to me) to die. It was hard enough for me to visit her in the hospital when she was alive. I loved my grandmother, but I couldn’t face her death, and in many ways I still pretend she is on some really long vacation.
But, I find myself thinking about visiting my grandmother. Maybe it is because I never really accepted that she isn’t on a trip but is somewhere else with a head start on eternity. Or maybe it is because I need a physical reminder of what she meant to my life. Maybe I need to remember how she shaped who I am. I won’t know unless I go.
It has been eight years since she passed. I feel like in my head visiting her grave has been building to this big dramatic moment, when in actuality, it will be a quiet and anticlimactic. I will walk to her grave, maybe with some flowers, and trace my hand on her name on the headstone. The texture will be burnt into my memory as I think about her cooking, and her laugh, and the way she was the sweetest lady in the world unless you were playing cards with her. My memories of her will come alive, I will acknowledge them, and then stand up and walk away.
I have moments like that without the cemetery visits. When I eat marshmallows or those orange slice candies (which she always had for me), when I see mandarine oranges, when I watch Mrs. Doubtfire, or any of a hundred other things. Those are little memorials in my mind to my grandmother. Memories of her alive and vibrant. I don’t need a headstone to remind me of what she meant to me.
Maybe one day the curiosity will drive me to see where her remains lay, or maybe I never will. But, I do know that I will always remember my grandmother and always hold on to the hope that we both shared, that we will be redeemed and together with Jesus someday. I bet she is laughing and enjoying Him already.