Their beloved grandmother, Gabba, was dying.
My husband of twenty years and I held hands, locked tear-filled eyes, then simultaneously stared at the hospital bed that held one of our dearest family members—a mother who had chosen me as her adult child after my parents were killed in a car accident more than twenty years ago.
Having no children of her own, Diana had stepped up and adopted our little family, later becoming the only maternal grandmother known to our two children.
From birth, she loved them passionately, and they loved her right back.
And now, a series of unfortunate events had led to the unexpected.
Her life was measured not in months or years, but according to the experts, only hours and maybe days.
We wiped away the tears that had fallen on our cheeks and through sobs he said, “We have to call them in and allow them to say goodbye.”
I nodded, in full agreement. Our children, Zach and Mack, Irish twins, needed to mourn their beloved grandparent. And the first step—an opportunity to speak what was in their hearts, no matter how painful it might be.
Our children had been processing the devastating cancer diagnosis of my youngest brother for three years. We’d had many discussions about our faith and the promise of eternity, preparing them for the inevitable —but not for this. Oh, how we wanted to shield them from this pain! What parent doesn’t? But the transition from life to death is one they would experience in their lifetime—repeatedly.
Guiding them through the mourning process is part of our calling as parents. After losing my parents, I did not grieve as I should have, and the effects were devastating. We would not allow history to repeat itself.
So, one at a time, they came in, and we allowed them as long as they needed to say their, “Until later farewells.”
Gabba, unconscious, and dependent on the machine to help her breathe, did not physically respond as each expressed how much she meant to them. She did not squeeze my son’s hand as his thirteen-year-old body gathered her in his arms and told her he was sorry he couldn’t fix this. Her eyes did not open as my twelve-year-old daughter fell across her heaving chest, weeping, and expressing thanksgiving for the part she played in her life. Both showed, through their words and actions, the assurance we would see her again. Both said goodbye for now.
The weeks following her death were gut-wrenching. Mourning her individually, we found ourselves crawling into bed with them at night, holding them as we did when they were much younger. We prayed, read Scripture, and talked about the gift of time.
And now, though we all miss her daily presence in our lives, we celebrate her legacy each and every day through remembering all she taught us.
A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.