Friday, November 30, 2012

The End. But It Isn't, Really.

On Sunday, November 4, my brother went to visit my grandparents.  Grandpa had been basically unconscious for the past 3 days or so.  The continued to give him morphine because of the terrible pain he was in.  He was very weak and dehydrated.  Grandma and her children had spent several nights and days on constant vigil, waiting for his spirit to leave his body.  For the days before he was unconscious, he had been talking to people who were long dead, and it was clear that he had one foot in this world and one in the next. 

Grandma told my brother that she wanted the boys to come give Grandpa a priesthood blessing and to be very stern with him.  She felt that he needed to be told that it was time for him to let go of this life and that he did not need to worry about her.  Grandma was exhausted, physically and emotionally.

So my two brothers (who live in Utah), their wives, Spencer, Ashtyn, and I went to Grandma's on Sunday night.  The boys sweetly and firmly blessed my grandpa according to Grandma's wishes.  We each spent time alone with Grandpa, touching and kissing him, talking to him, expressing our love.  We gathered in small groups and reminisced together.  There was laughter.  There were tears.

We asked Mom to call us when he left, even if it was the middle of the night.  I didn't sleep well, knowing that that call was going to come at any time.  It didn't come during the night.

On Monday morning we have our devotionals at work.  Tim B. shared his testimony of the work of temples, and it was more than I could bear.  Because of gratitude and knowledge, the tears flowed freely for me, and I finally left because my sniffling was becoming ridiculous.  My boss came to my desk and asked if I was OK.  I was, because the tears were not despair, they were gratitude.  So he said, "If you're OK, come into my office and we'll go through some things."

I'd only been in his office about 10 minutes when my headset beeped.  I answered it as I always do, and my mom said, "Hi, darlin'."  Her voice broke, and I knew why she was calling.  Even though I was SO happy that my grandpa no longer had to be in pain, I was still very sad to know he was gone.  Of course, the loss is not just mine, and I was concerned for my grandma and my mom and others.  As soon as I hung up the phone I buried my face in my hands and sobbed.  My sweet boss had the tissue box in front of me in no time flat, and he just stayed and let me meltdown for a moment.

A moment is really all it took.  We have been preparing for Grandpa's departure from mortality for six months or more.  It is a relief to know that he is pain free.  It is a blessing to know that he is joyfully rejoining his family and friends who left this life earlier.  It is a relief that Grandma doesn't have to worry about him any more.  And it is amazing to have the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessed peace brought through the Holy Ghost.

The funeral was held on Saturday, November 10th.  There was a horrific snowstorm that weekend, yet we still had a nice turnout of family and friends.  The funeral went beautifully, and I was even able to sing without a meltdown. 

The interment was in the mountain valley town where Grandpa grew up.  The roads were clear, but it was COLD and windy.  Yet still, people came to pay their respects.  The American Legion sent a contingent to give a 21-gun salute, a bugler to play "Taps," and a color guard who retired the flag on the casket and presented it to Grandma "on behalf of a grateful nation."  My sister had purchased three dozen flowers so that anyone who wanted to could place a flower on the casket.  The simple act of all the children placing those flowers on the casket was my grandma's undoing.  She cried and cried and said, "It's so final!"

Well, it is final.  But also, it isn't.  Because of our Savior, Grandpa will have a glorified, perfected, pain-free body at the resurrection.  Because of our Redeemer and the restoration of priesthood keys, we can be a family eternally.  I'm so thankful for what we have, what we know, and the blessings that come from God.

For flowers and cards sent, for prayers offered, for phone calls and emails, for kind and loving friends, for sweet family, I am sincerely thankful.

Grandpa and Grandma in high school

My hero AND the hero of a nation

With his family

Holding me

The two of us