This has been a holiday of goodbyes, and most painful of all was the unforeseen farewell to my great-grandmother, Nana, two days after Christmas.
Although breathing had been an ongoing difficulty, my entire family had been blown away by how strong and healthy Nana had looked, even at 96. Her recent move to a nursing home had been a seismic shift for her, but she'd borne it with the fortitude and resilience sprung from her difficult years on the Manitoba prairies.
Nana was tough—a life of challenges and adversity had forged her into a stronger woman than most. But she loved deeply, and showed it in the simple, special ways we will forever associate with her: peanut butter cookies, home-knit slippers, thrifted gifts, and a purse stocked with cheese, banana bread and bacon for retrieval in such opportune times as the middle of a golf round.
Oh, the stories we'll tell, the memories we'll cherish, more so now than ever . . . Nana was a part of all of our lives, and her absence will be felt and mourned more deeply than she could have known. I'm thankful for those memories, and for the two great blessings she brought us this holiday: an extended visit with the family who came together to mourn, and a reminder that life is short: our days on earth are indiscernibly numbered. Any breath we take could be our last, and Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Are you ready?