We walk into her hospital room carrying a bouquet of red roses from our garden.
She’s sitting in a chair, the afternoon sun warming her.
I reached out to hold her hand and I notice her skin is nearly translucent. Ninety-six years of life have left their mark on her body: breast cancer. A back that aches and legs that go numb. One eye that no longer works and ears that strive to hear. A heart that is struggling.
But her mind. Oh her mind. It’s sharp. 96 years have hardly dulled her mind. She knows me and my husband (her grandson) and my two little ones. She smiles. She converses. She laughs and hugs and questions.
She’s our last living grandparent and she’s one of the kindest, godliest women I know. She celebrates milestones with us: weddings, birthdays, graduations, jobs, babies. For the last few years we’ve walked the grass at the cemetery together to honor the life of her husband. She knows Scripture. And she prays. Oh that woman can pray.
I hold her hand and rub her back and see my husband in her blue, Swedish eyes. And I think back to a shared meal at her place when the love of her life had passed on and the little loves in my life were yet to come. She grieved for the one who died and I grieved for a dream that was yet to be fulfilled. Together we loved one another. We ate lunch and she talked. I listened. And I learned. I heard about a woman who waited on God… for her family too. She waited for 5 years for God to bless her with children.
And then God brought a little girl into their family through adoption. And then three more biological children.
Back then she looked into my eyes and saw my pain. She felt my longing and she understood my hurt.
We talked about grandpa and how we missed him. And we talked about adoption. And we talked about God and His ways and His plans.
And that was years ago because now I sit in the hospital holding her hand and I see my son…my SON…who is just shy of four and realize I didn’t know what was to come when I sat at her table and we grieved together.
Her days are numbered and they are few. But really, aren’t all our days numbered?
She looks at the roses and comments on their beauty. And when she looks me in the eye and asks me to pray for her, I see a woman who has been trusting God for so many decades, still trusting. Struggling as we all do, with not knowing exactly what the future holds, but trying to place her cares in the hands of the Almighty.
She is facing the end and she wants to do so with dignity and grace. But she’s never walked this road and she’s not sure what to expect. And neither do we.
And all I know is this: few lives have touched me like this life has. She adores my husband and loves my kids. She treats me as her own. She teaches me by how she lives and how she loves.
I hold her hand and squeeze it tight. And tell her I will pray.