Our girl gave Nana such a thoughtful Christmas present this year. Shopping for her was a challenge. What do you give someone who knows they are dying? Someone who only has months to live and has come to terms with it?
My SIL shopped for pajama sets, a great idea! I got fuzzy socks to go with the pajamas, her favorite body lotion, and her favorite snacks since some days Nana doesn’t feel up to going downstairs to the dining hall for her meals. These are all useful and she was happy to receive them.
But our daughter did something uniquely different for Nana. Knowing she struggles with Alzheimer’s, so she made her a photo album with the thought that seeing family faces would be comforting to Nana. Awesome idea!
Needless to say, Nana cried when she opened the album. With lots of photos from past and recent, and it was fun to go through them naming faces and places. It was a wonderful walk down memory lane.
However, every time she came to a photo of her late husband, the best FIL anyone could ask for, she said the same thing each time. She gently placed her hand on his photo and said with a smile, “I have a feeling it’s not going to be long before I see him again.”
I replied, “He’s cuing up the band and lacing his shoes. He’s got a dance ready for you.”
I’ve never seen a couple who love to dance more than them. For decades, I watched them jitterbug and slow dance every chance they got. It’s one of my favorite memories of them together. Dancing. Twirling. Hand-in-hand their bodies moved together as if they were one person…and after 40+ years of marriage, they indeed were one.
They finished each other’s sentences, knew each other’s thoughts, understood their strengths and weakness, and always found a reason to laugh together.
From enjoying nightly ice cream while wearing shorts in upstate New York when it was negative degrees outside; to soaking up hours of sun on Florida beaches; to attending church and being involved in numerous ministries together; to never missing a family event at which my FIL always said with tear-filled eyes, “Thanks for including us,” these two were each other’s lives.
She’s felt his absence for the past 15 years. A piece of her died when he did. Her heart packed its bags on the day he drew his last breath and she has been ready to join him ever since.
But she’s said something so interesting to me over the past 15 years regarding his passing. She says that her prayer has always been to not let her feel the full weight of his loss.
And God has granted that request.
She tells us that she only remembers the good times they had and recalls very little about his illness, the ICU, his suffering and his death.
She credits God for granting her request to block that part of their life out so she only remembers the good.
However, even more beautiful is that she is looking forward to seeing him again in heaven. She knows that she knows he and her family & friends are waiting for her.
I encourage her with Jesus’ words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 1-3)
Since they are both believers, my FIL is indeed waiting for her. He’s been saving a dance for her for 15 years. I can only imagine how they will glide across Heaven’s streets of gold to the rhythm of angel voices.
It is great fun, and so good, to look back on photos of wonderful memories and remanence over stories told a thousand times.
Nana, and all believers, also have a whole lot to look forward to.
Only God knows the day he will call her home. She believes it won’t be long. The doctors agree.
With her time left on this earth we’ll keep sharing photos and memories. We will continue to bond over stories past and present.
And we will, with great anticipation, follow Nana’s lead and look forward – and look forward to – all that is to come.
The eternal party is just getting started…