Someone once told me that when writing a blog post you need to be real; people like real stories, with real emotions. Why read it unless it resonates, why write it unless it's real. I always try to be honest in my posts, to share from the heart and tonight is no different. When I started writing this it was tinged with sadness as my Nan had passed away only that morning. Sadness and yet also joy fill my heart as I remember her. I write this as much for me as anyone else. I want to remember our final moments together. My memories of my Nan.
My Nan lived in Scotland so growing up I didn't get to see her as much as I'd of liked but she was still involved in our lives. She was great at writing letters. I'd write her a long letter that had been on my to-do list for weeks but I just hadn't got around to yet, and within days of sending it I'd get a lovely, long, handwritten one back. She would write on those blank cards, filling both centre pages in small print and would inevitably need to use the back side as well, writing over any logo and text printed on the card.
She would remember every birthday. Even in her last weeks when she was very poorly she was concerned that my daughter, her great grand-daughter received the 1st birthday present she'd lovingly chosen, wrapped and sent.
If I'm honest I didn't see my Nan nearly as much as I'd of liked. She lived far away and particularly since we've had children, life has felt hectic and weekends seemed full so quickly. Justifying the time and cost of travelling all the way there seemed hard and so we never went there as a family until her last weeks, only seeing her for odd days when she was down this way. This I regret. Tears fill my eyes as I write this.
If there was one thing about her that defined her it was, without a doubt her relationship with Jesus, she loved Him. Even in her time since my Grandad passed away many years back her diary was always so full: church commitments, Bible study groups, church choir. Her life revolved around Him. She knew Him and more importantly she knew where she was going.
She was 94 and she was incredible. Always busy, always full of joy, full of faith and surrounded by friends. What a lady! Knowing she was saved and going to Heaven made her last weeks easier for her and us.
When we heard my Nan's health had massively deteriorated we made the decision to go visit her in Scotland. It was an expense we couldn't really afford but somehow it just felt right to go. Boy am I glad we did! I'll always be so glad to have had that special time with her, to have those treasured memories. The most special time we have ever had together, just her and me.
One thing I know that gives me such comfort is this: that moment was not a final goodbye, it was goodbye for now.
At that point, she was in a care home. I've not been inside a care home for many years and as much as it was a nice one, something about it just screamed of sadness. We spent four days in Scotland and I spent hours every day sat with my Nan. We talked, although in her unwell, exhausted state our conversation was limited. I read her the Bible. I prayed with her, and I held her hand. I got to tell her time and time again that I loved her and every time she would say the same thing "and I love you darling" in her loving, gentle, yet sincere tone.
She asked me to pray for her that God would take her home, she, of course, meant Heaven. She had lived a full life but now she was suffering and what she wanted was to finally go and meet her Saviour face to face. A hard prayer to pray over someone you love, but I knew she really wanted this, and I knew it was better for her.
My most treasured memory of my time with her was one particular moment when I held her hand. We'd chatted but in that moment she just looked deep into my eyes. She said nothing, I said nothing but as we looked at each other it was as if she was conveying every emotion of pain, loss, sadness but also love as she looked at me. We are a culture that isn't used to staring someone in the eyes for that long, it can feel uncomfortable and like we need to fill every space with talking but it was powerful. I could sense her love and joy of me being there with her and the comfort it was giving her.
It was a strange thing as we prepared to fly home on the last day and I was pretty certain that would be my last visit with my Nan. Her time ahead seemed short, although as it turns out it was even shorter than we'd expected. Saying goodbye was emotional, massively sad and really hard, but also a blessing. How often do you get to say goodbye to someone knowing that will be the last time. How thankful I am that we got to go and see her. That she got to meet both of her Great Grandchildren and that I got to say the things I wanted to say.
Walking out of her room that day was so hard, I hugged her many times and I told her I loved her many times as well. I looked back as I walked out that room, knowing that would probably be the last time I saw her loving face, but one thing I know that gives me such comfort is this: that moment was not a final goodbye, it was goodbye for now. It was knowing she would soon be in the loving arms of her Saviour whom she has loved for years and it was the knowledge that she may well be up there soon, looking down on me cheering me on in this journey of life.
If I can leave you with one thought it's this. My Nan was passionate for Jesus, she knew she was going to Heaven and although in that care home there felt such a sense of death, my Nan was not afraid, she was getting ready to go from this life, this hard life sometimes to the next life, one full of joy.
She knew where she was going, do you?