Dan Hett’s c ya laterrrr had me considering a number of things I’ve dealt with or been through in my life, or even what I’m going through right now (hence why this post is a bit late). I think in a way it’s served as a reminder for me about the kind of hope I still have through my faith that death is not the end.
And through loss or the fear of it, most people have a family they can turn to. Over the past week, my grandma had a fast decline of health and passed away. I had family I could turn to in ways I never had before over the past week, and some family had turned to me in ways I never thought they would, considering I was literally a child last I saw many of them. I got to know people that knew her before she was a grandmother, and before she was a mother, and even before she started dating my grandpa when they were in high school. In some ways, I was looking back to Retratos Vivos de Mi Mamá, but in looking at c ya laterrrr I also thought about the one page that says this:
This is the first time you’ve physically been with most of your family since this began. It feels really, really weird. You and your sisters were the last to arrive, everyone else has been here for hours – everyone looks so strung out.
Sitting in the middle of this group feels really strange. Everyone’s responding in different ways. Your mother is moving around a lot, talking to everyone. Your stepmum is quiet, wrapped in a blanket. You dad is quiet. Really really quiet. Your brothers friends are in similarly conrasting states. It’s a weird mix of people. You’re not sure what to do.
I don’t have this many siblings, but I do have one and three cousins on my dad’s side of the family. Seeing them after so long was awkward at first, but it didn’t take long for us to realize not only why we were there, but also that we all have different ways of coping with this one big “c ya laterrrr” to Grandma. My brother seemed more willing to open up and ask what everyone’s been up to, but I’m more of the introvert that waits for conversations to come to me. So naturally, of the hyperlinks on the above quoted page, I chose to speak to my parents as the relationship I have with them has really opened up a lot since we all started going to church again and since my dad and I found studies to go to.
Yet for us there was no police, there was no questioning, there weren’t reporters, there were no crowds, there was no mass tragedy, and there was no explosion. But it kept us up all week– knowing that she probably wouldn’t make it out of the hospital but still (perhaps selfishly) hoping she would make it and we’d hear her mumbling or see her smiling again. When I was talking to my parents and my brother about it too, I didn’t say it like Hett wrote of the situation he was facing:
You mention it to your sister, and you agree it felt like a TV show this morning.
It doesn’t now.
It just didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t, to be honest. It doesn’t feel real that I’ll only see one grandparent every time I go to the home and former flower nursery. I never imagined them apart.
And the last thing you’d expect when your brother goes to a concert with his friends is that he won’t come back.
What people don’t realize about high-stress or traumatic experiences such as a terrorist attack or losing someone is that being still can sometimes be the only way you start to fully understand what’s going on. You can’t fully understand how your mind is processing anything if you don’t take a moment to slow down and listen. And more often than not, that’s frustrating and even enraging when all you can think about is someone you love is or could be gone. And though I can say by the evidence of my grandma’s faith (James 2:14-20) that she’s truly home now (Hebrews 13:14-16), I still also found myself asking whether or not I should be crying, even though the shortest and perhaps most profound verse in the Bible is two words: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
I think what’s really profound about how Jesus wept for His friend– though already knowing when Lazarus would die and already knowing He would raise Lazarus from the dead and already knowing He would see Lazarus again in Heaven– is the fact that He still loved Lazarus so much that being separated from him was difficult. Do I have the same understanding of the hope found in the work of Jesus that Jesus Himself did? No. I’m not God. But I do have enough of an understanding to know that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Does this make it easier to not be able to hug Grandma (or for Hett, his brother) again in this life? Still no. But it gives a hope that only One can provide.
Yet still I can’t imagine what it’s like for my grandpa right now, but I think Hett has a line describing the morning after everything that might just scratch the surface: “A morning like every other, but not at all. No morning will be like the others now.”
And before leaving for the youth retreat I’m writing this from, that’s how mornings were feeling but with dramatically less pressure than Hett describes because this wasn’t super sudden, publicized, or terror-driven event. But still, it seemed like this fit my life too well right now:
The house is weirdly busy. You’re not sure what you expected, but it wasn’t this level of action.
You spend a long time hugging and conversing and catching up, you don’t even recognise some of the people in the house.
More arrive, relatives from fairly far away who jumped on the first flight they could. Everyone wants to be here.
Your mother is unreal. Endless cups of tea, everyone sorted. Like nothing happened. You wonder how long this can last.