One of the best things about when your grandma dies is that she leaves a lot of Kleenex for you to cry into. Granny Goo died eleven months and four days ago, and I just ran out of Kleenex tonight. It IS true that I have been parceling it out a bit lately, wanting to make each use worthy.
(Imagine. Trying to make worthy snot. As if I don't have enough other things to do!)
I used her last Kleenex tonight. Tonight at another funeral. This funeral was for a man from my church who I love in my deep heart. His name is Donald. He and his wife triaged my life when I was in close-to-the-bone need. I owe them for giving me back to myself when I had lost my way. And I am not the only one that owes them that same debt; they are the type that looks for the lost ones out in the highways and byways.
The two funerals couldn't have been more different, save that they were Christian. One was at a non-instrumental Church of Christ, and the other at an Orthodox Christian Church (also non-instrumental, but they don't make a big fuss over that).
Because they were both Christian, they were very similar in the way that they comforted the grieving; "Because of Jesus Christ, your beloved ones are with God." But I don't know that that assurance ever made me cry less.
People, even Christians, have have gotten into the lazy habit of saying that death is a natural part of life. But you and I know that is bull hawkee!!! (Bull hockey?) We freak about death because as people, we innately know that death is NOT natural. How can they take such a vital person and do them the indignity of putting them in a box? Death is not part of the true natural order, it is part of the fallen brokenness of this world. We were made to live forever, soul AND body.
In the almost-year since Granny Goo died, the thing that has bothered me the most is that she is just never around. She always used to simply love having me with her, my presence, even if we were not talking, even if I would just stay to nap at her house. She liked it.
So many beautiful things have happened to me this year, and I haven't gotten to tell her. Although I still sometimes feel sharp stabs of grief, the main problem comes in merely by her grey absence, casting a pallor over everything. To nap at her house one more time... but her house just isn't around anymore. It is a deeper mourning, a more lasting kind.
Even though I cry buckets over these lost, and even though missing her sometimes seems like a tic that I've just gotten used to, the thing that makes both of these funerals so distinctly Christian is that I still have hope.
I don't always go in for "pie in the sky" theology... I became a Christian expressly because I don't know how to deal with the in and outs of each day without the template of grace Christ offers... Even so, I AM comforted that Granny Goo and Donald are with God. I AM comforted that Christ has trampled down death by death, and that He will raise us up out of our graves on the last day.
But the hope I am holding onto tonight is the hope of the last Kleenex. The so-mysterious book of Revelation talks about the new heaven and the new earth in this way: "And
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God’s dwelling
place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
The old order of broken and fallen things WILL someday pass away, and we will be once again in our natural states: with God. Presence. And to be with each other, with Him, will truly be the last Kleenex.