When my grandma passed away it hit me hard.
From the time I was a little girl she was my bestie. My one constant. My rock.
But as I got older our relationship changed.
Slowly it became less and less about our inside jokes, the back and forth, the one liners, laughing until we both had tears streaming down our faces, our late night trips to Long John Silver’s where we would dance and ring the bell obnoxiously before we left, or talking about religions, politics, our favorite books, authors, and boys until the wee hours in the morning.
Our dynamic became contingent on strings.
Strings that she desperately tried to take hold of and wanted to control as I dangled them in front of her face to keep the chase alive.
Eventually she ran out ways to help me and she became tired of me sucking her dry of all of her resources and all of her energy.
Because she had become my enabler.
The first few years of my newly formatted sober life didn’t feel quite right to me and it wasn’t just because I had to push the reset button psychologically and physiologically.
I needed her and I looked to her for everything. I depended on her and I missed her. I felt like one of my body parts was missing and when I looked around I felt like I had abandoned everyone, but most notably, my grandma.
But I just wasn’t ready to dive back into that part of my life.
We had become unhealthy for each other and I didn’t know how to approach integrating my new life with the old one that she represented to me. So I never really did.
Not like she wanted anyway and not like I could have (or should have).
We talked on the phone occasionally and I visited a handful of times and that is where my fear left things.
And then she got sick.
She had struggled for years and she had held on for as long as she could hold on but this time was different.
When I walked into her hospital room that last time I studied her face.
I stood silently next to her for a few minutes, alone.
Those minutes felt like an eternity.
I watched her labored breathing. I studied her face and her hands and her hair.
She opened her eyes one time and made eye contact with me and for that minute, I studied her blue eyes.
And I knew.
I felt her exhaustion and I knew she was tired.
But not just tired, she was ready.
Admittedly, I selfishly panicked as many people do when they suddenly realize there is no time.
There is no more time left to attempt to repair or mend what has been broken.
There wasn’t any more time. I wasted all of the time.
She would not know how much I had missed her and she would never hear me tell her why I felt like I had to stay away.
I still miss her. I live in the same city where she and I made many of the memories I talked about. I drive down the streets that she used to work on and live on, I shop where she used to shop and I run into people who knew her from time to time. I drive past our Long John Silver’s and the corner where her house sat, and I see the fences that she and I painted together.
So of course she crosses my mind every single day.
But here’s where I might lose you.
I talk to her sometimes when I am alone.
I tell her all of the things that I wished I could have been brave enough to tell her when she was still here.
That I was so afraid of what might happen to my life if she were back in it.
That if our relationship began again, I had no idea what that could mean for my sobriety and I was ashamed for feeling that way.
I was embarrassed that I felt weak when it came to letting my family back into my life, as they were and still are my biggest stressors and my number one triggers. They steal that secure, safe feeling that I have found with my life and shake it to the core.
I tell her that I miss her and that I am sorry. So so sorry.
I hope that she knew that I was just trying to be my best self, and nothing I did was to purposefully hurt her.
I look at her old photo albums often and last night after my husband and the boys were asleep I dug them out but I had a plan when I walked into the room. I am currently writing a post about how amazing my experiences were growing up backstage at the community theater. I would watch my grandma and her friends and cast mates rehearse and I met so many amazing people. I was digging for some of the cast photos and my grandma in costume for the post and I found them.
But of course as I sifted through years of memories I couldn’t help but reminisce and I ended up sitting on the floor with photos all around me.
As I was packing the books up I found a stack of papers that had my grandmother’s distinctive writing on them. There were several print-outs from Ancestry dot com (she was adopted so it didn’t surprise me that she had researched her family tree) and it looked like she had jotted down notes on the backside of most of the print-outs.
There was one piece of paper that I held in my hand and studied a little bit longer than I did the others and my eye was drawn to what looked to me to be like two lines that seemed odd; out-of-place and not quite flowing with the rest of the notes.
ALL of the notes that she had written were names and dates, first names, last names, nick names, birth dates, and numbers. And then -these two lines. The ones that didn’t fit with the rest of the information on the page in any conceivable way that made any sense.
When I read the words “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on his gentle breast”
I forced myself to exhale and then I smiled and I closed my eyes and I wept.
Not a pretty cry either, a big ole’, thank-you JESUS ugly cry.
I thank God for those words and that I noticed them.
Maybe I noticed them because I was focused and it was quiet in the house, and it was just the right time but I *needed* these words.
It hit me almost immediately that not only were those words out-of-place on the paper, they didn’t match how she spoke or what she talked about, or the music that she listened to.
So I did what I always do when I need a fish bowl of random, but plausible answers:
I asked Google.
The first page of results led me to believe that I Google was on the right track.
Here’s what I discovered:
| Safe in the arms of Jesus,Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ’tis the voice of angels
Borne in a song to me,
Over the fields of glory,
Over the jasper sea.Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge,
|(Lyrics found here)|
I don’t really know what else to say, to me, those words answer a thousand questions for me and comfort me. I think it’s best to just leave this one here for now.