~from July 10th~
It's Sunday morning, just after 5:00am and I am sitting in the Philadelphia airport. I have just come from my grandmother's funeral. What a truly precious soul. That familiar, sad missing is creeping around my head. It's bittersweet, the beautiful celebration in honor of her life and the empty place where she has always been. I am reminded again that we are not made for endings.
The night before the funeral we sifted through a velvet-lined suitcase of her old photos, lovely vintage cards and birth announcements, her writings, letters and her testimony(which my brother later read at her funeral). She saved everything that meant something to her. I thought,"Ah, so this is were I get it from, this need to preserve." Such a gift are these written words. I looked at the lovely cursive over stationary. It's a bit of a dying art; this pen to paper, these written letters, replaced with a sea of cyberspace musings.
There is nothing special about this moment really. My little Harper is sleeping peacefully in a blanket-nest next to me. He is all goldeny-angelic in the light of the just-rising sun. I'm at the airport five hours early so suddenly I have this little open space of time. This gift of quiet to nurse and pray and just be. The sun is starting to glare off of the pavement and the wings of the slowly moving planes getting ready for take-off. There are people rushing all around me to every corner of the earth, but I'm alone in the quiet of my thoughts drifting here and there. People are rushing everywhere, limbs burdened with baggage, furrowed brows, eyes ahead steadily moving. Someones' schedule gets disrupted which leads to angry faces and angry words. Airports are good for watching people. I feel the way Harper looks; peaceful, solitary, drifting in and out of dreams. I blink away the circle rainbows that form on eyelashes facing the sun. I wonder if I can memorize this very ordinary moment; the feel of pen over paper, the glow of the rising sun, the sound of my soul waking to my first Love.
Just a little bit ago I watched my sister, who's moving to California, hurry through security. I was right behind her but got stopped and sent back to the gate to get clearance to fly with the babe. So just like that, I got her attention and blew her a kiss. By this evening I will be on one side of the country and she will be on the other... and so the journey goes.
My heart aches.
Yesterday I said goodbye to my Nanny. What a glorious life lived, what a legacy of faith, what a large hole left in our family by her absence. I sit, I reflect and God's love surrounds me.
Soon I'll be standing on a shore showing my love the ocean, dipping Harpers' new toes in foamy waves. There's a time to be born and a time to die, but above all there is Hope.
We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give Him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken. --Amy Carmichael
My parents-in-law were taking my family on vacation to the beach this same week so Harper and I were flying out to join them. It was a wonderful reprieve from normal life and the timing was a gift. I'll write more about that later. When thoughts are hurried, scattered and sad, the wide world comforts me. I find so much healing in the ocean... a literal picture of depth and breadth and width, and my Father's love is deeper still. It's strange sometimes the way God meets us right where we are especially when we're hurting. He brings delight right in the middle of pain. He drops his love gifts right in front of us, even in an airport in a day of 15 hours of travel.
As I walked around the airport with Harper in the front carrier and my backpack and diaper bag, my shoulders started to ache. Harper seemed to want to stretch so I found a booth in a airport restaurant and made him a little bed next to me and sat unencumbered to have lunch.
If you've ever lost someone you love you learn that it effects everyone differently. After I lost my dad, seeing girls with their dads made me miss mine. Now after just losing my grandmother, I felt like I had a Nanny shaped hole in my heart. Who could ever fill that role in my life? She's always been there, she had prayed for me every single day. Ninety years worth of wisdom and living, the only grand-mom I've ever known. I have a void of older women present in my life. I miss her.
So, I guess it made sense that when a grandmotherly little woman walked by my booth, something in my heart perked up. "I should ask her to sit with me," I thought as she passed, but I didn't. About 30 seconds later she came up behind me and said, "Feel free to say no, dear, but would you mind if I joined you?"
It seemed that for the few of us in the airport not immersed our iPhones, Kindles, or laptops, the first question upon meeting was always, "Where do you come from and where are you going?" I chatted easily with this silver- haired grandmother named Nell. She asked me if I was close to Nanny and what she was like. She listened with kind, knowing eyes. She told me all about her background, her kids and grandkids. I told her of my grandmothers prayers for me and that if I lived to be that kind of grandmother I'd be happy. She said, "I think you will, dear, I think you will."
It was just lunch with a stranger. But also something deeper...a connection, maybe it was motherhood, maybe it was loss, or maybe just finding a friend in a stranger over lunch in an airport. In the next several hours I would be approached by two more of the sweetest most grandmotherly women, both talking to me as if we'd always known each other. What an unexpected gift of comfort. It wasn't until I said goodbye to the third one that I paused and said, thank you.