I know this is a lengthier than normal post. It is about someone I love and very dear to my heart and my mama’s heart. I honor the life of my grandma who passed away September 1, 2011, after a harrowing battle with cancer. May He speak to you beyond these words I manage to pen, and may your heart be drawn to your Creator, and to those He has given you to love.
I attended my grandma’s funeral September of this recently passed year. We, her closest family members, had our private moments to say good-bye. While she be absent from the body that now rests cold, she is present, healthy, and whole in the Holy Joyous Presence of the Lord. Friends and family collected in the room of the funeral home, chairs in rows for us to find our place. We honored her life there. Why do they call it a home, this place where we say good-bye to those who have gone home? It would be the second funeral home I had to visit in the passed 8 months. My husband’s mama also lost her battle on this earth to evil cancer. They both now abide victoriously in heaven with their Jesus. I imagine my mother-in-law was there to meet my grandma went she arrived in heaven’s splender. Maybe they even chit-chat about us a bit. I could hear them laughing now.
After lots of hugs and tears shed and reminiscing of times passed, I sit and I listen. Several family members and friends pour from their hearts, what I imagine to be the fondest memories of our beloved. I would know for certain what was uttered, except their anecdotes and tributes were articulated almost entirely in Spanish. I do not understand much Spanish and speak even less. Although, I could capture only a word or two here and there, waves of emotion overwhelmed me as I sat across the row from my mama who sacrificially and lovingly took care of hers so well during the last year of her life.
I sat alone, listening intently to try and catch a few words of a language that I could not comprehend. But as I rested in my place, I was overwhelmed as I became aware of a language universally understood. What swept over me and came to surround me completely was not a language, but a Spirit. Undeniably, it was LOVE. Though I remained baffled by the language spoken, what was easily discernible, was that everyone who shared had a commonality. They were LOVED WELL by my grandma. Unable to hold back the flood, and feeling as if I was the only one sitting there, my emotions engulf me. Grief first, then thankfulness. Praise to God begins to pour from my heart and is offered for the intercession my grandma made for me while on her knees, crying out to God on my behalf. I sat with eyes blurred overwhelmed with the realization that my very salvation and this blessed life I now live for God, was a direct result of her answered prayers. My heart flooded with gratitude for how well she LOVED.
She lived a simple, selfless life, that I am now sorry I did not get to know better. I had so much to glean from her. Yet, because of how she lived, because of how she loved, she left a heritage. She did not withhold any of her whole-self in her devotion to her Creator. She requested and required so little. Grandma gave generously from her modest possessions. No one was unwelcome in her home, no matter what time it was, and nobody left hungry. There was plenty of arroz con gondulez y arroz con pollo to be had. Her kitchen was filled with the aromas of sofrito which is comprised mostly of spanish peppers, onions and garlic.
In her last days, as her body gave-way to a heinous cancer, her home lacked the distinct aromas of her flavorful Puerto Rican cooking. Nevertheless, the fragrance of her life still lingers. The sweet aroma of her love still permeates.
Here in her death, I am thinking about life. I am pondering about a life lived well. What does that look like? Is it one that is filled with fame and fortune? I know it is not. Is is a live filled with great accomplishments recognized in this world as extraordinary? Is that what I want them to speak about in my remembrance? Is it the accumulation of material items that I want them to remember me by? I can honestly and unequivocally answer, NONE OF THE ABOVE. As I sat there that day, my eyes were opened to truly something life-changing. I knew without a doubt, that my grandma LOVED WELL. She had nothing of material value to show for her life here on earth, but what she possessed moth and rust cannot destroy. What she has even now still, is worth far more than all the riches of this world. What she has is how she lived, how she walked. It is considered by God the only thing that makes everything else, ANYTHING. The greatest of the only three that will remain, and that is LOVE.
This is my standard to live up to–a life lived loving well. It is a life I fail at daily. I meet the requirements for what LOVE IS NOT, much more often than what LOVE IS. But I read in the same chapter, “Pursue love.” This is a pursuit I will never cease from. As I am pursuing it, I will keep the end in mind. I know how I want to be remembered. Even if there happens to be someone who does not understand a word of what is said at my memorial service, may they know with certainty, I LOVED WELL.
It is my cry from the depths of who I am, “Make me like Jesus.” I feel so far from being like Him, when I get angry and yell at my kids. I feel so far from being like Him, when I am able to turn away from injustices and allow the busyness of my life keep me from doing anything. I feel so far from being like Him, when I remember wounds I inflicted on a family member or friend, that cannot ever be taken back. I feel so far from being like Him when I disrespect my husband.
I feel so far from being like Him.
So my pursuit of LOVE is my purusit of HIM.
The One Who promises I will be like Him when I see Him,
for I shall see Him as He truly is. (1 John 3:2)
My puruit of God is my pursuit of LOVE for HE IS.
When I am face to face with Jesus on that day, I know that my grandma will meet me there, and I will thank her, for I’ll stand there because she…