Monday, June 1, 2009

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I got pretty well-acquainted with a police officer the other day. Well, as well-acquainted one can get with someone who doesn't really talk or smile. As we walked through Papa's house attempting to find places where something may have been at one time, or really, before Friday. I guess I'm lucky I wasn't there, since I'd been kind of house sitting and picking up mail for him since he was gone. I didn't make it to my favorite house on Thursday and then Friday came and went so quickly.

They say it happened between 12-3pm on Friday afternoon. In broad daylight. The neighbor works from home on Fridays and was home all day, except for then. He felt like he was being watched, like they were just waiting for him to leave to carefully break in to the window that faces their house. When they found the skylight, in nice neat pieces, all over the lawn, they panicked. His wife got hysterical. All the lights were on, mail still in the box, Papa's car was home AND he never leaves town without telling her. (It's that kind of neighborhood.) She was sure he was dead inside. I'm so glad he wasn't home.

I know that house like the back of my hand. I know where every picture frame and trinket goes. They left the house immaculate, or as clean as my small children had left it earlier this week. Wh0ops. I couldn't find anything missing at all, except the flat screen TV. My Mom noticed the Roman coins were missing. My Grandma's jewelry was tucked away in a drawer, thankfully. Most of their nice things wouldn't get any money; they'd have no value to someone else.

I did notice a couple file folders out of place in my Grandma's study, the room I have been slowly cleaning out, boxing up. "Bank Statements" and "Pay Stubs," read the labels. No one thought it was anything at all. But, I did go through and find account numbers and social security numbers in that stuff. It wasn't until the next day when everyone else started to pay attention to the details. My dad came by to check on his make-shift window and heard the phone ring. It was a guy he went to high school with who now lives at the homeless shelter. He'd been walking in a rather sketchy neighborhood and found my Grandma's wallet in front of an abandoned building. He wasn't holding it hostage or anything, he said, but he'd appreciate $10 to put some minutes on his phone card. My dad graciously obliged. Everything was still in there, like she'd always had it - except her MasterCard. It hadn't been used yet.

I've seen her wallet 50 times since she died, sitting on the counter. Once I looked through it to see if there was any money or gift cards that Papa could use, but there wasn't. Just her license, AARP card, credit cards, etc. I think that Papa had a hard time throwing it away, shredding up her things. That's why it sat. In plain view.

I can't help but think this is partially my fault. I mean, the mail was literally hanging out of the mailbox. People were trying to reach us Friday night, but my entire family was celebrating the wedding of my cousin, Brianna. I ignored the unknown numbers on my phone. Not like I could have stopped anything that was already in process or planned. They would have done it with or without my blessing.

I feel like all the yoga I've done all these weeks was gone the minute I walked in to the empty house. Stress overtook my body instantly and it's still taking residence in me.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm so incredibly bothered, why this messes with my mind and my soul so much. Being robbed is such a violation of life. To plan to take something from someone and go to all the trouble to do it perfectly just really bugs me.

And things were just starting to resemble some sort of normal for us. You know, as normal as can be with the glue in our family gone. I'm glad she wasn't home by herself. My Mom is glad this didn't happen while she was still alive because she too, would have felt very violated.

I'm 28 years old now, but some days, I still need my Grandma. I think back to those days in the hospital where I was praying she would die. Not because I didn't love her so much, but because she was already gone. Her heart was beating, but there wasn't much else left. We wanted her body to go, because the rest of her was already gone. And then when she did, I was surprised at how terrible it felt. How it felt as if she hadn't been sick for all that time. It felt like I hadn't had any time to prepare.

Cancer is so violating. It's like a thief has been planning to break in to your house, to steal all that is important, to leave you devastated in the end.

Papa had a somewhat easy time still enjoying his vacation. He went fly fishing in the mountains, had the best gathering with his cousins that he'd ever had and played some mean Bunko. He understands a little thing called perspective. My BFF, Brooke, she is learning it right now. And my sweet Ella, she gets it too. Just like the day before Grandma died, when Nick totaled their car, Papa didn't blink an eye. I guess I expected yelling because that is what I would do, but instead he pulled Nick close and told him how thankful he was that he was OK. Papa didn't care about the car, after all, it is just a piece of metal, he said.

Just like Grandma, as she chose the songs for her funeral, they were not songs of hate and anger towards God for not healing her, not giving her more time. They represented her life perfectly, till the end. And as I heard my old friend, Becky, sing them as only an Angel could, I pictured Grandma in heaven, singing them with the beautiful voice she never had (she would agree!).

I think the way you plan for your passing says a lot about a person. The songs you choose, what you take care of. Just ask Elisa, as she opened this at her baby shower. It was a complete surprise to their entire family, since her Grandma did not drive or leave the house much due to chronic illness. But, it was engraved to baby Adrian, who should be here sometime next month, from his Great Grandma who now lives in Heaven. She missed his birth by just 2 months, but she wanted to plan for his life. It was a beautiful thing to watch, as Elisa opened that gift and saw how big her Grandma's love really was.

One of the songs that my Grandma chose for her funeral is an old hymn called "How can I keep from singing?" I'd never heard it before, but it's beauty brought me to tears. I'm sure there are angrier songs she could have chosen, songs that no one could have blamed her for. But, she didn't. Peace is an unexplainable thing. It heals lots of wounds. It's worth looking in to, if you ask me.

How Can I Keep From Singing? by Robert Lowry - 1860

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?


Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Wow. What a crazy time for you. you are in my thoughts for sure.

moderndomesticmama said...

Wow. Very well put. Your Grandma was an amazing woman. Its amazing to see people faced with very difficult times full of peace. It is a perspective thing. I hope I hope your perspective will continue to broaden and you learn even more amazing lessons from Grandma's life.