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Mourning: A Short Story

There has been loss and grieving in my circle recently. Friends, grandparents, children, dearly loved and ripped from earth due to disease or self-infliction. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 that we have the privilege of mourning with those who mourn. This short story is my own grief at the loss of my grandmother, pressed into words…when there weren't really any words to be said.

There has been loss and grieving in my circle recently. Friends, grandparents, children, dearly loved and ripped from earth due to disease or self-infliction. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 that we have the privilege of mourning with those who mourn. This short story is my own grief at the loss of my grandmother, pressed into words…when there weren't really any words to be said.

I had never touched her hair before. It was soft grandma-hair, lacking the coarse impudence of mine. It was a ball of white with shocks of raven and granite. My grandfather looked at an old picture someone managed to find in the last couple of days.

“Black as raven and full,” he said of her hair, staring long at the old photograph. As I looked around the room, I saw Tamara’s coppery locks, Cora’s jet-black bob, and my tangle of black. Variations on grandmother’s theme.

Her skin had few wrinkles. She would have been 99, but her face didn’t betray that secret. Her birth certificate shocked us all. Louise Rosalee. Never heard that name before. Maybe because most people called her Grandma or Mother, or sometimes Kadian. That was the name we all knew. Pet names and corrupt governments can obscure.

***

The aromas of cooking curry goat and ox tails, Soft-Sheen and baby powder filled the air. Confused scents warred in the sanctuary and foyer space. My family filed through the center aisle. Shamika kissed Grendmother on the forehead. Tears broke through her elaborate black eyeliner. Daddy didn’t cry at all, though. I didn’t know her well enough to kiss her in life, so I wouldn’t do it in death. I lay my hand on her satiny white sleeve. It felt like lead.

The service lasted four hours and my aunt fell asleep within the first two. I sang, of course, with my cousin Cora. What did they call us? Bobsy Twins, I think. Some church ladies sang, too, off key. Grandpa loved it. We could tell because he would reach over and record parts of the service that he really liked with his hand–held radio.

One of my aunts gave testimony. My grandmother, washerwoman, gardener, goat keeper, mother of nine, gave to a missionary as long as she lived in Jamaica. Only my aunt knew.

***

Grandpa wanted to see his wife buried so there would be no mistaking where her body and coffin lay. The prayer band brought a keyboard and sang “When We All Get to Heaven” while the bulldozers packed earth over her vault. Uncle Isaac and Uncle Miles sang with gusto, laughing and fooling no one. We grandkids stood along the borders, stepping on other fresh graves. We held hands or umbrellas, and watched the drops of rain sink into the earth. Just like grandma.

Don’t go yet. We don’t know you.

But she was gone.

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Sharifa Stevens

Sharifa Stevens is a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised child of the King, born to Jamaican immigrants, and currently living in Dallas. Sharifa's been singing since she was born. Her passion is to serve God's kingdom by leading His people in worship through music, speaking and writing, and relationships with people. Her heart is also unity, inspired by John. Sharifa hates exercise but likes Chipotle, bagels with a schmeer and lox, salmon sushi, chicken tikka, curried goat (yeah, it's good) with rice and peas, and chocolate lava cakes. She's been happily married to Jonathan since 2006...and he buys her Chipotle.

8 Comments

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    Garry Leigh

    Thank you for sharing. I

    Thank you for sharing. I feel like I was there too. Dad and I and a few others did the same recently for a Grandmother I saw all to rarely and my children never really knew. Life is so short and thanks for sharing a part of it with us Sharifa. We're looking forward to meeting the new family members very soon! Gar

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    Sharifa Stevens

    Thank You, Gary

    Death is so offensive in general…and you just don't know whose lives you affect or who's lives affect you. I didn't know my grandmother as well as I would have hoped, but her death still profoundly impacted me, as did her life (where would I BE without her?).

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    SonShine

    From here to eternity
    That is a title of a song and a movie, but the truth is that we are here and Grandma now is in eternity with the Lord she loved. She is basking in His presence, his smile, and his radiance. If given a choice to return to you, she would say “no way”. And we who are left here are saddened by the grips of death as it separates us from those we love or are learning to love or loved. We never know how to face it …until it happens. And then the emotions crowd out the joy that the deceased would have us have that she stands with the witnesses – she is there cheering you on with “go girl…raise that baby so he too will come up here one day”
    Oh my precious friend, my heart aches for your loss but as Paul said: living is Christ and dying is gain (Phil 1:21).
    When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there was probably one song she knew extremely well and what a wonder to know it as well.
    Hugs to you blessed Sha
    Gaye

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      Sharifa Stevens

      True! And…Still…

      I know that everything you are saying is true, and I would never want to rip my grandmother from the arms of her Maker, now that she is fully basking in His presence. But…I'm still down here with broken memories and a broken heart, in a broken world. I think the challenge is in reveling in the hope of glory, and being fully present in the mourning process, too. We do mourn, we just don't do so hopelessly.

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    Sue Bohlin

    Introduce me?

    Sharifa–when we're both in heaven, will you introduce me to your grandma? I'm looking forward to getting to know this precious lady! Thanks for the lovely family snapshot, despite the pain of loss.

    Hugs to you!

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      Sharifa Stevens

      Absolutely

      I would LOVE to introduce you two in glory. :o) One firecracker to another.

      Hugs Right Back,

      Sharifa

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    Charis Lau

    identify

    Sharifa, thanks for sharing this. I never knew either of my grandmothers (one died before I was born and one was living but with alzheimer's). I remember feeling very similarly when my mom's mom died. I really didn't know her at all. I only know the stories that my mom tells of her mom. I look forward to knowing both of my grandmothers one day and for eternity. We will worship the Father together! Miss you girl.

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    Anthony Hayle

    Some People Weep When?

    At times, some people weep in a time of great joy; a marriage proposal, an escape from danger, a favorable court verdict, unexpected wealth. In my case, there is something about singing; the tears flow whenever my daughter sings. Conversely, the careful observer would not miss my tears of joy, during the group singing, at my Mom's homegoing.

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