It is with great sadness that I say that on May 28, 2015, my beloved grandma Beth Tielke passed away after a brief battle with cancer. I loved my grandma beyond belief and definitely beyond words. That became increasingly apparent in these weeks after she passed away because I longed to be able to put into words to people how much she meant to me, and yet I felt like no one could truly know unless they shared our titanium bond. And while we had an incredible bond, let me also say that my grandma had a unique way of making anyone she was talking with feel like they were the most important person in the room, because to her, they were. Jokingly, she always told whichever child, grandchild or great-grandchild who was with her that they were her favorite. So if I have any family members read this, I know you were truly her favorite. 😉
I wanted to write this because I wanted to express the feeling of deep sadness I have…but also something more intense. As hard as it is for me to fathom right now, I have a strong impression from conversations with my grandma over the past couple years that she wants me to be able to carry on without her and have the best life possible, free of sadness as much as possible. Just this past year at Christmas she said to me in her most cheerful disposition (all but clapping her hands together), “Oh, I could die happy now because I know that you have everything you need and you have [your husband] and [child]!” Our family was used to Grandma saying things like that or about her own mortality with light-heartedness over the years, and I guess in a way she may have been preparing us for the inevitable so that we could one day face the reality of the loss ourselves.
That being said, I’m not sure that you can ever be fully prepared for the feelings and emotions that come with loss or the loss itself. But I do feel comforted by some conversations I had with her in which she told me everything was going to be fine. My grandma also faced difficult losses during her lifetime and I remember some of my favorite road trips with her involved talking about the signs that she had seen that indicated to her that her mother was watching over her. On those drives, I always looked at the sky through the windshield–day or night–and tried to envision heaven and those I knew who were there.
Yes, I know my grandma is in heaven watching over me and all of my family. In her final days, I told her that rays of sunshine would always remind me of her. How grateful I am to experience the warmth of sunshine and see rays of hope in the sky during this difficult time because I feel like she is alongside me, assuring me that everything will be OK. She would tell me that I’m a strong person and that she’s so proud of the young lady I’ve become. She would say that she’s enjoyed watching my husband and I interact, that she can see our love, and that we have the most adorable little boy. I know that she wants to see us living happy lives and spreading good will as she did throughout her life…and that is something I can do for me and for her.
Within the past year, I had a vivid phone conversation with my grandma about how life may well be easier for the non-perfectionist. She did not consider herself a perfectionist and so she said she found it easier to be satisfied with the outcomes of her efforts. While she did not intend for these to be Words of Wisdom with Grandma Beth Tielke, I took them as such. So, as much as I’d like to write a lot on this subject [of grief and loss] and write it perfectly, I’m going to allow myself to be content with writing fewer words that may not capture my every thought and feeling but hopefully capture the essence of my heart on the topic of grief and loss. As for more words about my dearest grandmother, I will continue to tell her story throughout my life and for now, that story will continue to be shared here: sunshineintothelivesofothers.wordpress.com.
Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul” (NKJV).