I’m away at a clergy day, at the Morton Arboretum. It is beyond beautiful. Like those Christmas Card images of snow on trees and vast amounts of space. A winter wonderland, untouched by the city stains that turn snow to sludge to mush to gross. We spent the morning singing and in prayer, and, ever the skeptic, I expected to be annoyed by the singing. To my shock and delight, it was actually pretty great. And moments of stillness filtered in and space opened and coffee made its way to me and all was right with the world.
When I saw my mother had left a voice mail on my cellphone, my heart instantly leapt to my grandmother. Lent seems to be her dying season. This time last year we got the “she’s dying tomorrow, get your ass home” rally cry. Not only did she not die, but she got, if not better, she got stable. She has remained under hospice care.
The hospice nurse called my mom, who is understandably in shock. She thinks my grandmother has maybe a day or two left. I am looking at plane fares. Debating between church responsibilities and questions of the needs of my soul, my heart to see that face just once more.
She has let go of me, in her memory. But I have not let go of her. Bloated and changed, helpless and different as she looks in a hospital bed, she is still the face that showed me what joy looks like, that etched on me my belovedness. Hers is still the face of heartbreak and wondering what could’ve been done differently, of wondering how to fix a person who is broken. Hers is the face of love, of patience, of despair and of hope. Hers is the face of a grandmother.