A Different Christmas

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Waking up on a cold December morning Christmas, was less than a week away. As I crept out of bed and slowly descended down the steps I found that I could only think about finishing my shopping list before Christmas. Soon, my thoughts of Christmas joy changed to pure confusion as I saw my parents quietly talking amongst themselves. “Is something wrong?” I asked them. My parents informed me that my great grandma had passed away sometime in the morning. I could not believe the words I was hearing. She was ninety-two years old but in very good health. No one expected this to happen, especially not around Christmas time.
We had only been informed of the approximate time of her passing. We were not informed about the cause of her death or any other details which would have been nice to know. We were simply told the funeral would take place sometime in the next few days. My great grandma’s death did not hit me until several hours later. I had not seen her since last Christmas and I was looking forward to spending this holiday with her, playing Uno as we so often did. I slowly began to realize how different this Christmas would be without her there with us. She always enjoyed taking plates of leftover food home, which provided dinner for the next few days.
Over the next few days funeral arrangements were made. Events like this never seem to happen at a convenient time. I had to miss a day of school to attend the funeral which did not make things easier for me; However I wanted to be able to show my respect and also be there to support my grandma in the loss of her mother. I needed to make arrangements to take tests during some of the free time I had before the Christmas vacation. I did not want to have to come back to a multitude of work after the week long break. I talked to a few of my teachers who were very sympathetic to my situation. They helped me figure out when I needed to complete my assignments and tried to relieve some of the stress I had been experiencing. Everything ended up working out because the teachers were very accommodating and understanding. It felt like this was just one more stress added to my already hectic life.
As I stepped into the funeral home all sorts of emotions took over my body. My extended family attended ant they were all talking in a hushed voice. The conversations consisted mainly of awkward small talk because no one wanted to mention the tragedy that brought us all together. We tried to make the most of this bad situation by catching up on each others lives. Over the next half hour more people began to arrive and before I knew it we were ready for the service to begin. The pastor stood up, spoke briefly, and invited the family members to come up and see my great grandma for the last time. We all held it together up until this point. It seemed like all at once people began to cry, including myself. I am an extremely emotional person so I have never been good at dealing with death. I glanced over to my grandma and saw her crying, which really bothered me. She is such a strong woman and to see her in that vulnerable state was more than I could handle. We both began to sob as we held each other in our arms. I kept looking at my great grandma lying there so peacefully. I still could not believe this would be the last time I would ever see her. This Christmas would be her first holiday in heaven. I cannot think of a better way to spend Christmas than with the Lord.
On our way to the cemetery I replayed the ceremony in my mind. “Amazing Grace” had been played, which was one of my great grandmother’s favorite hymns. I remember playing that song on my flute at her church one time. I could still picture her eyes lighting up when she heard me play and how she looked so small sitting in the church pew. I hoped the memories of her would not fade as time passed. I always want to be able to picture her and be able to hear her voice in my mind. I never realized how much I enjoyed being with her until her death. She meant so much to me and I will cherish the memories we made together for the rest of my life.
After the graveside service we went back to the church for a luncheon. I had wished we could just go home because I felt emotionally exhausted and not in the mood to socialize. However, it turned out to be a very enjoyable time. I was able to see relatives I had not seen in a long time and some who I had never met. Overall it was comforting to be able to visit with family and friends who were all a special part of my great grandmother’s life and mine as well. The death of my great grandma made me think about the value of life and reminded me to live without any regrets. Over the next few days our lives began to return to normal. Moving on can feel strange at times even though it is necessary to the grieving process. I will always remember my great grandma and the valuable lessons she taught me, not only in her life but also her death.





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