Sometimes, it really takes a major event to make you look at your life and be thankful. Some of the most tragic occurrences give us the chance to rethink what is meaningful and important, help us stand up and get on the right track. This happened to me this week.
My gramma is someone with whom I have a very deep connection and bond. She is someone I have cried to and laughed with throughout the years, someone who has been steady adn ever-present in my life. And we have an even greater connection since I moved to Europe, where her roots are. She was a real-life little orphan Annie, and grew up in an orphanage outside London from the time she was just a baby. At the age of 16 she was released to help out as a seamstress during the war. She tells stories of this period of her life and I cannot imagine the courage and strength she needed to just get through each day. Of bombs going off and sirens blaring as she ran from place to place looking for shelter. And yet, during this crisis, she managed to meet and fall in love with my grampa. At teh age of 19, she left her life in England behind for the life of a farmer's wife in Wisconsin. And so the story goes.
Wednesday, my gramma was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. She had suffered a stroke and was in critical condition. Her strength has stayed with her, and yesterday evening she was conscious and seemed to be recovering. Feeling in her arms was restored, her voice came back though not completely clear. I spoke to her as someone held the phone to her ear and I heard the stuttered, quiet words that made me once again able to breathe: I love you sweetheart.
When you think that someone you love is being ripped from your life, another you steps up to the plate. Someone with more courage and more understanding and a deeper sense of reality. The despair and sadness leaves youa s you fight to establish a sense of rightness in your world. You strive to be a better person with hopes that someone else may be spared, as well as you in the process. You realize that the only thing that matters is those that you love. Nothing else is as important.
Today, I called my gramma's sister. She is 89 years young and still lives in London. I was to be the first to share this news with her...and I was frightened because though they are half-a-world apart, these two sisters are close. I didn't want to give her worry. As I heard her voice on the other end of the line, I suddenly got a wave of strength as I promised her that her sister';s health was improving, that she should be fine, that there is no reason to worry. During this call, I awakened myself to the promise that these things I was saying were true. My gramma is still alive. I still have a chance to share more of life with her. I am happy this is true.
What hit me even stronger, though, was that I made the connection that this will, in time, if not today, become a reality for me. I will lose someone I love. I will come to terms with their presence missing from my life. But I don't have to lose that person entirely. All the memories of the times we have shared are stored in my mind. All that they have passed onto me are alive in the form I take and the manner in which I live my life. If I am strong, so were they strong. If I am weak, I am failing what they tried to give me in their time on earth.
Today, my gramma is here on earth with me. I am thankful for her strength. But when the day comes that I must continue on without her, I will remember all she taught me and bring her back to life in the happiness and faith with which I lead my own life. I have learned so very much from her. And the thing I know without hesitation is that she is a woman of great strength and courage, and she would insist on me being the same. Today, I hold my shoulders tall with a smile on my face as I try to be just a little bit of the woman she was...and continues to be.