By Lorna Clark
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1Thess. 5:18
This verse got me through that day. My mother had called me as she did most mornings. My daughter, Karisa asked, “Momma, can I talk to Grandma Judy?” “Karisa, quiet please, I’m on the phone.” Karisa loves to talk on the phone – why should today be any different? Yet it was. I noticed a quiver in my mother’s voice. “Moma’s gone!” She managed to mutter. “What gone wh- – -?”, as the words came out I realized my mother was telling me her mother was dead. “How – When?” My grandmother had been ill, but had just been released from the hospital, and she seemed back to her old self. “In her sleep, last night,” Mom responded.
My mother had been hers and grandpa’s caretaker and would drive 35 minutes 2-3 times a week to clean their house or take them to doctors’ appointments. “Momma, I’m sorry.” I had no idea what to say “Lorn’,” she began, “Daddy is on his way home, would you go get your sister, she doesn’t have a car, and meet us at grand – -, she paused, “pa’s” “We’ll be there as soon as we can,” I said. I lived only 15 minutes from my mother and hated the fact that she was alone, but daddy was only 5 minutes and on his way.
When I hung-up to begin the dressing ritual, my daughter exclaimed, “I wanted to talk to Grandma Judy.” “Karisa, she doesn’t feel much like talking right now,” I explained. “We’re going to get Auntie and go see Pa-Pa Ed.” “And Grandma Irene!” She squealed and danced around. I stopped in my tracks. God please help me, how do I tell my 3 year old child that her great grandmother, who she just had seen two days prior was not going to be there to greet us this time. Father I cry out to you – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh My Lord, My strength, and My Redeemer (Ps. 19:14).
I sat down and made myself comfortable and then asked Karisa to come sit in my lap. I hugged her and I felt a tear stream down my face. “What’s wrong Mommy?” Karisa asked concerned. “Karisa,” I began, “Grandma Irene isn’t going to be home.” “Where is she?” Karisa asked quite disappointed. “She went to be with God,” I explained. “I want to go too.” she quivered. “We’ll sweetie, me too, but we have to wait our turn. God wants you to stay here for now with me and Daddy, Grandma Judy and especially Pa-Pa Ed. Pa-Pa Ed needs to see you today, he is very sad that Grandma Irene died. Grandma Irene was Pa-Pa Ed’s wife.” “His life? Like you are Daddy’s life?” she asked. “Yes baby, just like that.” I still didn’t think she quite grasped that grandma was not coming back.
We continued to get dressed when I was stopped by the thought of an egg. “What Lord?” I thought. “An egg,” He repeated. I told Karisa to grab a chair from the table as she had many times to help me in the kitchen. I took an egg from the fridge and a measuring cup from the cupboard and meet Karisa at the sink. I took the egg and explained to Karisa that the egg is like us, and sometimes the shell (our bodies) break (die). I cracked the egg and out came the egg. “Do we eat the shell?” I asked. “Nooo.” she said. “Of course not, the shell is not good anymore. The inside is what we use, right?” “Yes,” she said.
I continued to explain, “When the body doesn’t work anymore, we die and our inside goes to be with God.” I had Karisa hold the shell and I told her that the people that are left bury the shell in the ground.” While her attention was on the shell I dumped the egg down the drain. “Where’s the egg?” she asked. “It went to be with God.” “OH.” her eyes beamed, “Like Grandma Irene!” She got it and she was satisfied with this explanation. Thank You God for this simple illustration.
Little did I know that when we arrived at Grandpa’s house, Karisa’s 7 year old cousin was having a very hard time understanding where Grandma was. I explained and illustrated the egg with Karisa’s help, and to my surprise and some adults’ amazement her eyes also beamed as she got it. Together Karisa and her cousin took the shell outside and had their own burial service in Grandma’s garden.
Prayer: “God, thank you for teaching me how to teach my daughter that death is Your way of calling us home. And when You call us, we may just hear You say, ‘Leave your shells behind and come home…”
Lorna Clark is happily married to Sean G. Clark and they live in Clovis California where they proudly homeschool their one and only 8 year old daughter, Karisa. She will begin third grade in the fall (to which mom says she now has to use teachers’ editions) ?
In Loving memory of Irene Wisener
March 9, 1913 to September 15, 1999