I walked through the heavy glass doors, then paced down the dark and musty hallway until I heard the remorseful whispers of my relatives. As I became imminent, I saw men gripping the rigid arm rests of old brown chairs, and women wiping streaks of mascara from their face with soft pink tissues.
"You'd better go in and see her now," uttered my aunt.
I gently pushed on the extra wide door, and stepped into the dreary room. I was mesmerized as I glanced around the room. Her walls were bejeweled with pictures, and the banner I sent her sparkled like a diamond; "You Truly Are an Amazing Grace".
The flowers throughout her room accented the quilt that laid on top of her, and the beep of her oxygen machine was hypnotizing. Her hair was white as pearl, and her body looked thin and frail. Time and cancer were ravaging her body. Warm salty tears began running down my cheek as I stared at her pale complexion. I grabbed her weak hand and closed my eyes...
Great Grandma Grace's golden brown sugar cookies were very good, but they didn't surpass her luscious rhubarb jam and crisp olive green dill pickles. Hungry Grandma, as my cousin Chris called her, filled her house with the smell of fresh rolls once a week. Although she was ninety-two years old, she tended to her garden. It illuminated her square backyard, and the bright and healthy green with tiny pastel flowers intertwined made it seem alive.
On sunny afternoons when puffy white clouds floated in the vast sky, Grace would pick me up her blue '68 Chevy Impala, and chauffeur me to her cozy home. I would serenade her using her finely tuned upright piano.
"Did you like that song?" I asked.
I turned around only to find her fast asleep in her large orange rocking chair, with her mouth slightly open. I saw a vivid rainbow on her cheek from the textured window behind her. I sat on the tipsy piano bench in awe. She never let the struggles in her life impede through her character.
One summer the tides turned, taking my joy in waves back to the sea. The doctor diagnosed her with a baseball size tumor in her colon. I was devastated. I packed my bags, and was going to stay by her side in the hospital...
"Come in the room everybody," peeped my mother through the door.
I walked in the room, and the preacher was praying and his hand was resting on Grace's motionless arm. The room was still and the time was near.
A peace filled the room as she drew her last breath. No one spoke but there were silent cries.
I won't have the blues anymore, when I step across to that shore. This world where I roam, cannot be my home, I'm bound for a land in the sky. A day maybe two then good-bye. Good-bye to each tear and each sigh! Heaven is near, and I can't stay here! Good-bye, world, Good-bye.
The casket was glossy white, lined with crushed pink velvet. She was wearing a blue lace dress. The church was packed with family and friends to pay respect to "Amazing Grace".
Heaven is near, and I can't stay here! Good-bye, world, good-bye. Copyright © 2000 Amber Wilson
Footnote: I wrote this story shortly after my great grandma Grace died. I hope it shows there is joy in mourning, if God was present in that person's life. The italics are condensed lyrics from the gospel song Good-bye, World, Good-bye. I sang it at her funeral on January 3, 2000.