Reeling

Reeling

I watched my grandmother slowly disappear over the last six months and yet the moment of passing was so full of shock, I still feel as if I’m reeling. I’m still quite sure that if I drive up her quiet neighborhood street, she’ll be there in her garden. Tending to tomatoes, okra, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, maybe even carrots.

She was always tending.

Tending to me and to others, in a way that a substantial loss such as this leaves me feeling sick to my stomach, empty, and angry. I once wrote about her here not knowing how deeply my own words might comfort me one day. Because those words are true, and I miss every quirky and perfect thing about her.

As my husband and I drove to my grandparents’ house the evening of her passing, I told him how much I wanted to be like her when I grow up. The words spilled out in a soft and silly way, an attempt to bring a smile to my own dismayed face. She was faithful to the life God gave her. She loved her husband well and gave fully to her family, her grandchildren, her friends. And she could befriend just about anyone. I can’t count the number of times that I warned my friends, “My grandmother will hug you when she meets you.” She rode bumper cars and roller coasters with us every year at Dollywood. She helped me grow my first garden. She was my and my brothers’ own personal nurse, with the dining room as her exam room. She was always one of the first people in the stands at my basketball games or track meets, walked miles on end to support my brother in golf tournaments, and adamantly sat in the front row to hear my oldest brother speak at church. She sought simplicity by nature, never fooled by the bright lights of this world. She showed up when it mattered because it always mattered to her; I knew I could count on her.

But with so much sadness comes an abundance of gratitude for having this woman in my life who cared so deeply. She was full of life and love and joy. Her hugs were full of energy. How proud she was of all her grandchildren and me is humbling. Having known her gives me confidence. The world would be a stronger, more forgiving and encouraging place if we all had one like her who fully believed in us. My heart hurts this week but in the best of ways, for my grandmother was a good one.

A spunky, beautiful, loving good one.

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Kindness

Kindness

Be kind to one another, for those great burdens that weigh heavy on your mind and are carried through your days look quite similar to the burdens of your neighbor. Perhaps not. Perhaps yours are more complicated or more contained, larger than your arms can hold or stuffed into a backpack for long-term travel. Maybe your burdens are new or old, hairy or smelly or itchy or odd. But look next door and you’ll see that they’re the same, if you’ll let yourself believe that, if you’ll do yourself the favor (and your neighbor too).

I let myself cry today because the air felt safe and appropriate and true. Water spilled over the edge of my face mask in a hospital room that has grown too familiar; with a hidden smile, my eyes reveal all. I felt thankful for the kindness those around me offered, to allow the mystery of tears, to even share in it. My burdens seem so big to me; I know yours do as well to you. And they are. And I see that. So I plead with you to be kind to one another. For the world needs a ballooning of grace and joy and kindness to glide through the sky and overcome temporary, sorrowful burdens below.

For every bullet point on my gratitude list, I feel as if three more arise to oppose. On tough days, I’m too tired to bother. But kindness pulls me through. It can pull us through together if we’ll let it.