I am not a stranger to death. (I know, strange way to start a post though.) I lost a classmate when I was 12, a close friend the day before I tuned 17, a pet after my freshman year of college. Two years ago I lost one of the closest people to me, six months ago Adam and I lost our puppy. And last night my dad called to tell me that I had lost my grandmother.
We weren't super close. My dad is one of the youngest in his family, and to give you an idea of the age gap, I had cousins that were married before I was even born. Everyone had always told me though, that I remind them of my grandmother. That I look like her with my crazy curls, and that I act like her when I am being particularly head strong.
I hadn't seen her for years- not since the summer after my freshman year at college. But I remember her smile, and her laugh. I remember when I was very small her teaching me how to make toast without using a toaster. I remember my grandpa helping her in and out of their car, and watching her talk with her friends or walk their dog.
She had both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's for quite some time. My dad told me she went comatose on Monday and that when she woke-up that she asked my grandpa to take her off of life support. She knew it was her time to go.
It's funny, how even when you weren't super close to some one how much death hurts. Whether its a now empty desk next to yours, an email, a birthday card, a hug... there was a presence that you were SO used to having in your life that now does not exist. Its like people say- you never realize the impact the smallest presence makes in your life until its not there anymore.
There are a few things that I have learned about death in the past. One, is that grief never disappears. Years after loosing the friend, seeing a white truck like theirs will still make you hurt. I promise. Two, is that I can't imagine what death would be like without being a Latter Day Saint and knowing what I do. That knowledge does not make death any easier. It still hurts like hell. But I can't imagine how much MORE it would hurt, if I thought that death was the end of the relationships I have put so much of myself into.
And that goes into the third, and comforting knowledge: that people and pets (do not belittle the pain of loosing a pet. It is as real as loosing a human), DO continue on. They can't call you or touch you the same way, but they can still hear you, and you can still feel them. And sometimes, the feeling that your friend, your grandparent, is sitting next to you just enjoying a silent moment as you climb into bed, or take that long car drive on your own, is the support and love that you didn't even realize you were missing out on.
I didn't mean to depress anyone. I just wanted to give a moment to acknowledge the worthiness of tears, and to express the belief that we keep everyone we love close to us because spirit is eternal, and so is love. I'm grateful for the small memories I have of my grandma, and I am glad that she got to be independent to the very last moment of her life, and choose when she wanted to go. I hope I am half so lucky.