Death reveals grief, hope for student

I bury emotions, not on purpose, just naturally. I live in the realm of the analytical and logical, and rarely do I venture into the emotional domain. I am not purposefully avoiding my emotions; I just don’t naturally go there. But today, I went there. I was going to tell the girls on my hall a little bit more about myself and I wanted to show them a few pictures, so I sat down at my computer. I started to scroll through my pictures. Each click took me further and further away from the present and deeper into the past.

Me with bangs, me in high school, me with my friends from home, my pets. And then I hit it, 2005. The summer before my grandmother fell and broke her hip. The last summer before the beginning of the end for my grandparents. I found one picture of Grandma Leta and my little brother Eric. They were both smiling and I became overwhelmed. I just wanted to see my Grandma’s face.

So I kept scrolling through picture after picture, searching for the faces I loved, but couldn’t recall. And then I found it: a perfect picture of my Grandma Leta and my Grandpa Wilbur, side by side, with big grins on their faces, and I started to cry.

I sat in my room and let the tears flow down my face, because I missed them. Because I still don’t really think my grandma is dead even though it has been a year. Because, in a way, it hasn’t really hit me yet. I am not sure I grasp it all even now.

I looked at that picture and realized I won’t see these precious faces again on this side of heaven. I tried to hold it together, but I fell apart. I want my grandma to be alive. I want to call her and tell her about my life. I want her unreserved praise and support. I want to hear her say she is proud of me. That’s all I want right now.

I know it’s a lot to ask, and I know I am so fortunate because I had all that when she was alive, but in this moment I’m really struggling to be satisfied with the past when all I really want is a piece of an impossible future. So I’m still here with the tears falling. I miss my grandma. I miss my grandpa. But they’re gone from this life. I can’t wish them back and slowly, slowly, that reality sinks in. I can’t call Grandma Leta. I can’t dance with my grandpa at my wedding. I can’t introduce my children to their great-grandparents.

I know the joy of heaven is profound. I know the light of salvation is bright. But I am caught in the groaning of this earth. This side of heaven can be really hard. Yet we continue living. Life goes on and we keep loving people, even though the mere thought of losing them can break your heart. But loving, truly loving someone is worth it.

And, at least for me, having lost my grandparents has made me much more appreciative of the people still left in my life. I’m more likely to write a note, more inclined to call, and much quicker to say ‘I love you.’ Death is inevitable and beyond our control, but how we live our lives and how deeply we love— that is up to us.

Here is Grandma Leta’s favorite verse: Psalm 100:1-5.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

White is a senior majoring in early childhood education. She can be reached at whitese@jbu.edu.