Happy Heavenly Birthday to my Cherished Mother-in-Law
It’s been a year and we miss her. I’m surprised by how heavy her absence feels. Most of the time I don’t slow down enough to experience it. This year of change has kept us in high gear and yet, in the background, there has always been a whisper of what we’re missing with Grammie gone. The banner over all of this, of course, is that we’re thrilled she is healed. She is in heaven and whole. She no longer suffers under tremendous pain and agony from the horrific disease that took her. And so, ultimately we are comforted and ultimately we do rejoice. But oh, we miss her, and I really lament what might have been--at least on this side of heaven.
Mark continues to seem authentically relieved for his mom’s sake and grateful to the Lord for taking her home. He does carry a void that can’t be erased. The grief has worn on him over the year and caused a tiredness that can’t be slept away.
And the girls--they fully remember their Grammie and grieve her absence. A better grandma does not exist. She flew to Okinawa to paint their bedroom pink with purple polka-dots, she played Barbies on the floor, she built snowmen, she bought them posh Easter dresses and Christmas dresses every year, she let them dye her hair, she entered their world on every possible occasion and played their games and did their shows and attended their tea parties. She gave of herself to them. That kind of love leaves a void when gone. It just does.
Last year at this time Mark’s sister called to say it was almost time. We booked Mark’s ticket for the very next day so he could be there for Janet’s graduation to heaven. But Jesus welcomed her in before he could get there. The girls and I had to stay in Okinawa because Rebekah was not yet allowed to go the US. While we had been saying goodbye to Grammie for at least a year it was terribly difficult to miss her memorial service and the opportunity to grieve with our loved ones. The night in Okinawa when I knew Mark was waking up to preach at his mom’s funeral were some of the most sorrowful hours of my life. I had dropped the girls off at AWANA and sat in the car while the rain poured and I just sobbed and sobbed that circumstances prevented me from being there to encourage him and to cry with him and to rejoice with him.
Circumstances--otherwise known as the Lord’s call on us to live on the mission field and adopt internationally--prevented our being there for most of this difficult season in our family’s lives. We lived Luke 9:60-62 and it was just hard. We live it even now as Mark’s family continues to grieve and we worry about my father. But God is good and He is familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53:3) and Jesus knows what it means to leave His Father and the Father knows what it means to lose a loved one. He met us in our grief then and He meets us in our grief now.
And Heaven! Heaven is real and it is my hope. It is our home (Phil 3:20), Jesus is there preparing it for us (John 14:1-4), there will no more tears, death, or mourning (Revelation 21:4), and Jesus reigns there and we will worship Him there! And this, friends, barely scratches the surface. I have great anticipation for the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21). Who needs a bucket list when you’re in Christ? You’ll have eternity to do those things and they’ll be in real, living color then. My heart overflows with thanksgiving that Jesus made a way for me to join Him for all eternity--this life is just the pre-party, ya’ll (I cannot recommend “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn enough, as it taught me much about what the Bible says about heaven).
We’ll be there soon, Grammie. We love you. We know you’re not missing us, but we’re missing you and we can’t wait to see what Jesus has in store.