It was nearly five months ago that I saw a group of EMTs wheel my grandmother into the back of an ambulance. She hadn’t been able to eat much and her body had become weak and frail. She often complained of stomach pains and said nothing tasted like it used to. We seemed so far from the days when I used to watch her standing in front of her seventies era green oven range preparing meals for the family.
I always loved the Saturday fish dinners and any other day where I could fill my plate with her Southern-style cabbage and collard greens. Those days, she seemed to dance around the kitchen, knowing exactly what steps to take without any instruction. Each movement only accompanied by a soundtrack of Carolina beach music blaring from a radio that sat on a table near the window.
But that day, seeing her—one of the strongest women I’d ever known—lying sunken in her bed without enough energy to reach the kitchen or the front door on her own, was heartbreaking. I knew she needed more help than I could ever give her inside that aging townhouse. With EMT’s guiding her every step, she had to will every muscle in her tiny body to make it down the narrow staircase to the outside where they loaded her onto a stretcher. I stood in the warmth of the summer heat and watched. And as the engines roared and emergency sirens screamed announcing their exit, I hurried back inside and grabbed her purse, prepared to follow in my car.
At the time, I had no idea that would be the last time I would return to that little townhouse to visit her.
She passed away about a week later.
I knew it had been a rough couple years for her, losing three of her four siblings in a span of about three months and a son some time before that. That, on top of losing her husband just days before Thanksgiving in 2014. It’s no doubt she was still grieving—with each day tickling her mind with memories of times shared and moments she wished she could enjoy right then.
She often talked about how she missed her siblings and joked about my grandfather, saying things like, “Man, he drove me crazy, but I sure do wish he was here right now.”
We all felt the sting of his absence every Thanksgiving after my grandfather passed. And this year, my family will feel the sting of missing many others, including my grandmother.
Although the sting of loss never goes away, I believe God is able to give us comfort and offer us a peace that surpasses our understanding. He offers us a place at His table.