Laughing and Dancing
One year ago— almost to the day— my grandma passed away in front of my very eyes. I was sitting on a chair next to her bedside, holding her soft, pale hand as she laid there, surrounded by me, her childhood friend, a couple of my cousins, and my aunt and uncle. She had spent most of the day in such a deep slumber that it had become clear a few hours prior that this wasn’t going to be a nap she was going to wake up from.
And I’ve got to tell you: her death messed me up. On so many levels. First off, the grief. Her absence in my life is so tangible. Even still. I used to love our visits— she was the type of person who, when you sat down with her, she made you feel so. utterly. special. and so. completely. loved. that you just knew she enjoyed your company as much as you enjoyed hers. She had a knack for finding humor in every situation— and her giant dimples made her smile even more infectious. She was witty, opinionated, and humorously self-deprecating. She was jolly, I tell you.
And her absence has left a heavy and lonely place in my chest— I can physically feel its ache every time I am within a few miles of her old house. It takes everything in me to not pull off the freeway and go stop by for a quick visit whenever I’m out that way.
And when my kids do something extra cute or create an art piece that is more beautiful than normal or when they write something extra clever or say something super funny or witty— I feel a little lost because I’m not sure who to show them off to or who to call and tell about it.
And when I am craving the wisdom and perspective of an old-school, non-computer-using, thank-you-card-writing elderly woman who grew up during the Great Depression and who still loved her husband even thirty years after his passing… I find that her phone number doesn’t work anymore.
I know that feeling these sporadic waves of grief are a natural, normal part of losing someone you love. I know that they are part of what grief looks like… and, even though it hurts a bit, somehow I don’t really want this ache to go away. [To read one man’s touchingly poignant description of what grief feels like, click here.*]
So, knowing that it’s been a year now… I just wanted to share a bit of her with you.
And I also wanted to tell you about something crazy that happened to me when she passed away.
Here we go: the real shocking part about my grandma’s passing was that at the very moment after she took her last breath, I immediately had a vision of her and my grandpa laughing and dancing together, hand in hand, heads titled back in laughter, amused with each other and enjoying their moment together.
And, although I don’t think I expected to have anything at all happen at the moment of her passing, I have to admit: that is definitely NOT what I would have ever “expected” to see.
I suppose if I thought about it, if I were to imagine what God might show me, or if I were to conjure up my own vision or something… what I would have “expected” to see would be a vision of her in healthful youth running straight to the arms of Jesus. Or walking towards a giant Light. Or hugging Aslan the Lion. Or just floating around some awesome Paradise-like place…
But not dancing with her high school sweetheart— her husband who passed away 3 decades ago!
Which makes me wonder if that “vision” was from God?
Yet… like… what about the part in the Bible that says “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30)??? I always assumed that meant there weren’t going be roomies or bed-buddies or reconnecting with romantic flings of any sort in Heaven. Honestly, I’m not sure what exactly I thought… but I definitely never would have imagined that God might “let” a person dance with their long-lost earthly love right away after they died!?!? I suppose I thought that, even if God did let you reconnect to say “Hey there, long time no see” to your old friends or family members or spouses… at least you would go see The King first.
So it seriously messed with my mind and my theology (which I didn’t even know I had!) when God (I suppose) put that image in my mind the moment Grandma passed from this life to the One Beyond.
It made me ponder what “eternity” really meant— and was my vision something from the past, the future, or was it happening in “real time”?
It also made me ponder my ability to hear from God— I wondered if I made that image up? Or if I’ve made up any other things that I mistakenly thought were “God speaking to me”? Was it all just a big self-made-up game of smoke and mirrors, this life of faith in the unseen?
And it made me ponder… God. And how very very good He might really be. Maybe… if that vision was from Him… He was just. that. sweet. So sweet to let an 84 year old, beat up, pain-riddled old woman, dance with the man she had been missing for so. many. years. Was my God really that secure in Himself that He didn’t require his new heaven-dwellers to come and greet Him first? Was He so supportive of the love we share on earth that He didn’t mind us hanging out and laughing and loving on each other even in His pure, sinless Kingdom? And rather than being a boring, “foofie” place where we all just float around and sing songs to and about God all the time… over and over and over again— instead of this, was Heaven maybe similar to how Aslan’s country is described in The Last Battle? Like a better, more perfect, more beautiful, more exciting, more adventurous and fulfilling earth— but without the danger and the sin and gravity and all that? What was heaven like? And what was its King really like?
I realize this line of thinking is a bit… random… but I wanted to share this little story/vision with you because (A) it’s on my mind since we just passed the anniversary of my grandma’s passing and (B) I wanted to get you to start thinking out-of-the-box about some of these things as well.
Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not claiming to have some newfangled grasp on God and/or the kingdom of heaven and/or life after death… I still don’t quite know what that “vision” even meant— or if it meant anything at all. All I know is that God has used that “laughing and dancing” image to open up my eyes to how vast and good and loving HE really is.
And I’d like to suggest to you that:
1. God is much bigger and more generous and more tender-hearted and more loving and more amazing than you think. Even if you already think is the most big, most generous, most tender-hearted, most loving, most amazing thing ever. I’ll bet He’s even more than that.
2. There is no point in boxing Him in. He is so beyond… anything… we can ever even attempt to imagine. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on Him and who He is or how He works… He always surprises me.
So here we are. Just over 365 days since this vision came to me. And God is still speaking to me about Himself. And He and Grandma are still somehow able to work as a team to confound me, frustrate me, inspire me, and open up my eyes to something I’d never thought of before.
Thank You, Lord. Please say hi to Gramma Mc for me. 🙂
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What about you?
How has God surprised you over the years? Do you have any great memories to share about any of your loved ones— either those who are still here or those who have passed away?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.