On May 8, 2015 it will have been twenty years since my world imploded on itself and I have been floundering ever since. My dear, sweet, wonderful, kind, funny, beautiful, saintly, faith-filled, loving Grandmommy went home to be with God and I was left here in a world that seemed dimmer.
I knew that she would want me to go on, to live, to love, to triumph, and most importantly to have a relationship with God. I remember at the time I was teaching a Sunday School class of 50 kids, ages 5 to 12, with a friend and they all made me cards to help me because I missed my Grandmommy. (I still have every single, hand-made card) I cried and hugged them and told them they were so appreciated and then after church I handed in my resignation. Because I realized something else when I looked into their little faces, I had absolutely no faith, no belief, not even anger at God, to help me teach them how to live Godly lives. When God took my Grandmommy, every last drop of faith I had in him dried up, like I was drying up.
I lost my way so completely that I tried to end my life about a year later and spent 5 days in the hospital until they were reasonably certain that I would not try again. When the dust settled, I decided that I didn’t want God, because he took a wonderful, loving woman who was still needed by her family and he left murderers, rapists, pedophiles and my stepfather who was a combination of all three. So, I became a pagan, at the time it was no more to me than a way to say to the world that I reject God, because he took my Grandmommy. It was years before I saw the spirituality of it, chose to become Wicca, and realized the beauty and wonder of the Earth around me.
I still struggled and in 2004 I tried again to leave this planet. I almost succeeded this time and then after the hospital stay I had a nervous breakdown that left me unable to speak, or dress myself, or function for the most part. Every one around me kept sending me beautiful cards and keepsakes about God and his infinite mercy and love. None of it meant anything to me, because I was stuck in this cruddy, mean place and my Grandmommy the one person who made it bearable was gone. Then one night a new package arrived, this one was a cassette tape, recorded by a friend, he had sung some Christian songs and played the piano, which he knew I loved to hear him do. And there at the end of the tape, almost as it was an afterthought came the thing that brought my voice back and started me down the long road to recovery. He played and sung, “I Almost Let Go”.
The words filled my mind, spirit and heart, they were the first things in the outside world that had actually penetrated the ice I was encased in. I tell him all the time he saved my life, but he just smiles. I do not think I would have wanted to make it, if I had not heard those words. They were the first time I could even consider that God had left me here because I still had work to do, people to help, messages to spread. They gave me the first hope that maybe if I worked hard, someday the light would return, that I would not be treading water, but actually swimming to a destination.
I went to church for a few months, but I do not think that God entered my heart at all during this time. Because the 9th of April (her birthday) and the 8th of May (her death day) still ripped me apart and made it impossible for me to breathe, let alone function. I also think this because I began a five year fight with Social Security for Disability benefits. While I fought this horrid, embarrassing and debasing battle for the small stipend they would expect me to live on with a ferocity that no one thought me capable of, I was mad at God. As I went through two trials, developed stress seizures and gained 80 lbs, I was mad at God. I took back up my pagan ways and got further and further from God. And I got madder and madder at God because it was such a nightmare to get my own money from the government.
As strange and trite as this may sound I was sitting at the computer in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, 2009, and I was suicidally depressed and I threw my head back and wailed at God, “If you do not hate me, then prove it, come into my heart! Make this better!” And there was a still, small voice deep inside that said, “That is all I have been waiting for.” I felt a warmth start there and work its way through my body. And though it would be ten months before I got approved for benefits and another trial, I went through them knowing that God was on my side. And whatever the government did or did not do, I would be alright.
My spiritual path will never be like those of my nearest and dearest, but I am a believer in God the Father, God The Son and The Holy Spirit. I call on them in times of crisis. I am trying to rely on them in when I am worried and just give them my cares. I am growing in my faith. Yet every year around this time, I struggle emotionally, physically, pretty much in every way. Even though it would be natural for her to be gone now, because she would 109. I still miss her so much it crowds everything else out. The pain is paralyzing.
For the last eleven years I have celebrated her birthday. I cook a special meal, sometimes spend the evening with a family member who struggles this time of year as well, watch a movie I know she would have enjoyed or listen to Rod Stewart and remember how she called him a “frizzly headed chicken who sure could sing”. I rejoice in her, but I am still sad, still in pain and as the day of her death approaches I head for actual depression.
Well this year as I celebrated her birthday with one of the meals she would cook for me that I loved, (pork roast and potatoes in gravy, minus the carrots, which I never liked.) And as it cooked and I had some not great things happen that day, (I burned myself with pot liquor), I made myself go take a deep breath, I prayed to God to get me through the day and to help my relative through it too. And God gave me a gift. He let me see for the first time what those 20 years had brought, because I was finally in a place where I could understand.
All the wonderful things I would have missed if I had gone with Grandmommy 20 years ago filled my head and my heart. (One of them is about to get herself in trouble because she is climbing on the kitchen counters!) I would never have met some of my dearest friends. I would have missed out on seeing some of my cousins grow into fine young people. I would have missed out on the marriage of someone who is so dear to me. I would have missed my best friend in the whole world adopting her children like she always said she would. I would have missed out on having my own apartment. I would never have finished not just one novel, but two. The last twenty years have had plenty of tribulations, but oh, the joy they have had.
This year, I look to Heaven and I say “Grandmommy, I published my book, just like you always believed I would!”, “Grandmommy, I miss you, so much, but I am so thankful for the 28 years I had with you and all the things you taught me!. “Grandmommy, thank you for all you taught me from how to make pot roast to how to be kind when others are not! And for the first year, ever, I can look to Heaven and say, “Thank you, God for not taking me when I asked or when I tried to leave, but for leaving me here to witness all the wonders I have seen and do all things I have been able to do!” “Thank you for the ability to write songs of praise to you and to blog about you!” “Thank you Lord, for being infinitely wiser and more patient than I.” “Thank you Lord for my life and all the many, many blessings in it!”