Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Grammie

Hello friends. I apologize for the blog silence, but I have being going through a difficult time. My dear grandmother passed away last week and my family and I are still grappling with the pain. It has been an emotional few days...on Saturday I watched two of my best friends get married and by Sunday night was in the funeral home for a private viewing. We had a lovely funeral yesterday, every room in the home brimming with friends and family. This morning we said goodbye in a beautiful graveside service, with the sun on our faces and a hymn in our hearts, just the family gathered close on the hillside. It was only then a little bit of peace crept into my soul. I know everything will be ok, but for awhile I will be keeping a low profile.

In the meantime, I thought I would share the letter I wrote to my grandmother the day I found out she was not going to make it. As usual, I wonder if perhaps I'm opening up a little too far in sharing this but it brought me comfort in writing and I really want to let my readers in to knowing a bit of just who Grammie was to my family. And so here it is.


Dear Grammie,

Maybe days.
Maybe hours.
Maybe minutes.
It won't be long now.

Just a few more breaths until the last one. So many breaths unheeded in moments passed, breaths that are preciously counted now.

My dear sweet Grammie. So funny, bright, and spirited.  So stubborn, so fiercely loyal to your family. But so frail, so small. Grampie said when you fell after getting up in the night that he picked you up and carried you back to bed. I picture him cradling you to his chest, not having to exert much strength but being so careful.  A tiny bird with broken wings, featherlight and fragile.

I know you want to go. I heard it in your voice when I last talked to you. So tired. As if sleep for a thousand years would still not give you strength enough to lift your head off the pillow. The daily battle, even to breathe, has worn you so paper thin that even the slightest of breezes is too much.

For months you've talked of the end, frankly in phone conversations and giving away your possessions at every turn. But we chuckled. "Oh Gram," we teased. "You're only giving me these Limoges figurines from your dresser because you forgot it was my birthday didn't you?" It was only because we didn't want to think of it, the inevitable. We squirm at Death, uncomfortable at the thought he takes from us what we care most about and can never have back.

But you made peace with him. Talked of Death as though he was merely that annoying old acquaintance who would show up uninvited for tea one day. "I have lived such a good life," you said, "all I want is to see my children and my grandchildren happy."
What we never realized is that Death had already stopped by, many months ago. He hovered around the threshold, stealing your strength in the quiet moments. And you knew he was there.

Sometimes Death shows up completely out of the blue and with a flash and a bang snatches someone we love in the blink of an eye. Sometimes he takes the young, the healthy, the strong, and we scream in fury. We rage at the sky, we sob into the abyss. "How dare you!?!" we shout. "How dare you rob us of future time spent with that person?"

But he didn't come that way this time. He was already here. And you knew it. And now you've invited him in. "I'm ready," you said. "I've had my bags packed for awhile now."
What hurts us is to see you take his hand so willingly. To see you remove your oxygen tube and rip out the IVs in defiance. To see you unwittingly make yourself more uncomfortable in the process. You're telling us to let you go but we can't. We don't know how to live after you've gone.

And so we fight and we struggle because we know you don't want to any more. And we cry. We cry in the car, in the bathroom at work, in the middle of the night, and sitting at the computer typing these words. We cry so hard, as if we think an ocean of tears will flood the pain right out of our hearts. And we come together, people flying, driving, walking, running to your side. To hold each other close and hover over you as though we could make you stronger by the physical presence of how much we love you. To selfishly hold on to you, against your wishes. Because we know once Death takes you, he will leave nothing behind to comfort us.

But you are not ours to keep. It was merely our privilege to borrow your presence from God for a time. Thankfully it is not Death who will walk you out of life. He is not a person, not even an entity. It is the absence of life, the state of un-being, the void left after the last breath. It is God who gave you and it is He that will take you. We rage against death because we do not understand it, because we cannot go there with you and bring you back. But death is merely the doorway through which you enter God's Heavenly kingdom. We're thankful that we, and you, have faith enough to believe that.

I love you so much Grammie. I'm sorry for all the unreturned phone calls, for all the times I never went to visit you, for all the times I thought of you but didn't let you know it. I love your sense of humor. I love the way you always used to put too much butter on the popcorn. I love the sound of your voice. I love that small rocking chair you painted for me when I was little. I love how much you care about each and every one of your family members. I love that without you, my mom wouldn't be who she is today. I love your relationship with Grampie. I love your relationship with God.

How can we fear the future, 
When love has planned the way
Which leads o'er hills and valleys
 To one eternal day?
E'en death at last is conquered, 
The grave has lost its fear,
And all faith sees is heaven 
Throw wide its portals here.

I don't know how many more breaths you have. But I know it's not really important now.
I wish we knew how to say goodbye in a way that didn't hurt this much.
I wish you peace. I wish you comfort. I wish you rest.
I love you.

I love you.

It has been my immense privilege to be your granddaughter.

All my heart,


Grammie never got to hear the letter but I know how much she loved me, loved us all, and that comforts me beyond words.

A huge thank you to every one who has reached out to my family during this time. Your thoughts and support have been an immeasurable encouragement. It makes me so thankful that we don't have to walk through this life alone.


  1. Ellie darling ... I know that your grandma read this letter in your eyes every time she saw you! I wish I could hug you tight. Take care ! Luv, audrey

  2. Thinking of you all!

  3. My dear sweet cousin, you have an uncommon gift with words. Hugs.

  4. That was beautiful, and a wonderful tribute...

    wishing you peace.

  5. Big hugs Ellie! Separation is never easy especially one so final. There will however come a day when you will remember your Grammie with a smile instead of tears and the pain of missing her will be easier to bear because you know she is in a better place. Until then, cry, scream, let it all out and know that we are with you in thought!

  6. I'm praying hard for you, Ellie.

  7. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful letter. I can't stop crying. Thinking of you all.
    Love, Rachel

  8. Thinking of you and your family, Ellie! I know the emotions of losing a grandparent... There will always be sadness, but time will heal the pain. It gets easier to think of good memories without as many tears. Love you!!

  9. This is beautiful Ellie! She knew. Thinking if you!

  10. just seeing this now, but have been thinking of all your family in your time of loss ... you have managed to put into words what we all must feel at one time or another in losing someone we love. you truly have a gift with words.
    much love,

  11. I'm just now seeing this, too, as I'm so far behind in reading my blogs.
    We're caring for a dear soul up here in WI who's been battling lymphoma for about 4 years and now the end is in sight and this letter is so familiar to us just now. You say it so well. Big hugs. Thanks for sharing this.


I love to hear what you're thinking! Thanks for the comment love. :)


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