My sweet grandmother left us last week…and I was with her when she passed away. It’s been a rough several days, but the story/picture below really seemed to help carry me through. I think God sent it my way as a form of comfort – to know that death is not just a black hole of nothingness, but rather a gateway of better things to come: Once there was a sweet little woman who had lived a very long life. She was kind to all who met her, and found joy wherever she looked.
One day it came time for that woman to take a journey. She could no longer walk (because her life had been so long you see) so she set out in her wheelchair along a dark, gray, and gravely path. – The clouds were thick around her as she wheeled along, bumping over stones, and in and out of ruts in the ground. Her family stood on either side of the path: encouraging her, cheering her on, but at the same time – wishing she would abandon her journey for now and stay awhile longer with them instead…
But she knew it was a path that she must travel, and something kept pulling her on.-
Eventually she saw a door up ahead. A very cold and unwelcoming door. It had a huge vault-like lock and handle, and was a dull metallic gray. She didn’t much like the look of that door, and neither did her family. They wanted to keep her safe and warm…with them – not give her up to the dark unknown.
As she drew closer with trepidation, the heavy handle on the door started to turn. Slowly it rotated, and then began to creak open. Suddenly a bright sliver of sunlight pierced the dark gloom of the path. It was only a sliver at first, but it grew wider and wider until the whole path was bathed with its light.
As she gazed through the door, the little woman could see a field of buttercups: so yellow and cheerful, the hills rolling up and down…stretching all the way to the horizon. The sky was blue there, and she could feel the inviting warmth of that place on her face already.
But then she looked around her and saw her family standing close by with pain in their eyes. She knew, with a sinking feeling in her heart, that they could not go with her through that now-beautiful door. This was her journey. They could only stand and watch from the outside boundaries of the path.
Still, the warmth and brightness drew her forward. She wheeled to the threshold, and with feeble arms, pressed herself up and out of her chair. She caught herself on the door, and slowly turned to look at her family again. Why did she have to make such a choice? She saw the sadness on the faces of those she loved. She knew they wanted her to stay. Why did she have to leave her family, in order to finish her journey to this wonderful land? It didn’t seem fair.~
She hesitated another moment, shed a tear, knowing that it was goodbye, and shakily took a step through the door that was calling her. As the shadow of her feeble foot crossed through the door, the warmth seemed to embrace her whole being. She felt her sagging skin renewed, felt her aching joints grow strong, felt the years of hardship and toil fall off her back. She was young and vibrant again! Her clothes turned from the heavy knitted sweater of the aged, to a light and flowing summer dress that nipped her waist and skimmed her knees. It was the same beautiful color as the buttercups. Her hair was dark and silky again, and as she stepped into the lush grass and sea of glorious flowers, she turned back one last time, smiled a smile of winsome youth, and life, and peace, and sweet contentment. She waved and said, “I love you all so very, very much. I’ll be here waiting for you – someday, we’ll be together again. Remember that I’ll never stop loving you in the meantime!”
Then she turned, and ran, into the glorious sunlight.