I went to the funeral this weekend of a woman I had met only once, but who has changed my life forever: my husband’s Nana.
While I’ve hardly met her, I know so much about her from her family. I know that she and Papa went to a movie theater on their honeymoon, but neither could remember what movie they saw (“I wasn’t watching the movie, grandson”). I know that she sewed my mother-in-law’s wedding dress. I know that she loved flowers and gardening, and that her favorite color was pink. I know that she painted her dining room mural, read to her grandchildren, and dominated at 42. In her handwritten notes under pictures dating back to her own childhood, I feel I have come to see some of her personality.
Though I know many things about her, I can feel her love for the Lord. She was a passionate lover of Jesus, always serving, often rejoicing in song. I know that my father-in-law learned his steady, faithful love for God from his mother, who enveloped her daughter-in-law in this love, too. My in-laws then nurtured that love for God in their son, my husband. (And all of them can sing – oh, can they sing praise!!!) I know Nana is so proud of the way her grandson serves and talks with his Lord every day.
I have been blessed to have not attended many funerals in my life. The one I remember most vividly was so sad – a friend’s mother taken much too young. We did “mourn with hope” because we knew she had gone Home; still, the mourning for her leaving so soon overshadowed other emotions.
This weekend, there was so much joy. Nana has gone home! Her long suffering with dementia and short, painful suffering with cancer are gone. Nana’s family mourned the long “see you later” that her death means for them here, but rejoiced that she is finally in a place of healing and rest, a place where she can look on the face of the God she has loved so long.
My father-in-law gave his mother a wonderful send-off on Sunday morning. He reminded all present that heaven is real – God’s promise for those of us who believe – and that Nana is where she most wanted to be.
He read this passage from Narnia’s Last Battle:
Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”
Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”
“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”
Their hearts leapt, and a wild hope rose within them.
“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
After the service, tears streaming down my face, I wrapped my mother-in-law in a hug. She said, “I wish you could have really known her.”
Thank you, Nana, for having children and for teaching them so much about life, love, and the Lord. You have changed my life forever through your son and grandson. I so look forward to meeting you – mind whole – in heaven and dancing for our Lord together.