Sixteen years ago today my Nana passed away. I was 16 years old and it was a church night (Wednesday). She had been sick for a while (cancer), and had been sent home as there was nothing else that could be done for her. My mom and aunts were with her in those last moments while my cousin and I were at church.
That night as we were being taken home by someone in the church we got lost on the way home. We ended up on the opposite side of town and had to turn around in a graveyard. The graveyard had a huge fountain in the middle of the entrance, which we circled. As we did, I saw a white figure shoot by it. I turned around to try to see it again, but it was gone.
Shortly after my cousin and I got to my place my mom called to let us know Nana had passed away. I was in shock. I laughed. I do that sometimes when I'm at a loss for what emotion to display. It's out of disbelief more than anything.
See, I was very close to Nana. We lived with my grandparents from the time I was 5 until around 13 or 14. My mom worked well into the night, so Nana would be who I'd see after school and who I would spend time with every day. We'd play games, watch TV, talk and so on and so forth. I loved her. She was a precious lady. A very strong-minded and blunt lady, but a loving lady. And most importantly she believed in me when I felt no one else did.
I love her and I miss her more than words could say.
The last words I remember her saying to me as I visited her in the hospital shortly before she was sent home was "straighten up and fly right". I promised her I would, and that became a major changing point in my life soon after.
I probably didn't think much of it at the time, but after she passed I changed. I grew up really fast, not just because of that, but because I had to. My brother was a year old and his dad had passed away several months earlier. My mom had to work, and I was already graduated from school. So I had to man up and take care of my brother and be responsible, more responsible than I had ever been. I changed that year. I got more serious about things, more dedicated and passionate about church, family and life. It was a defining moment in my life as every time I slack off on anything or act out or act up, if you will, my Nana's words echo in my ears.
I'm far from perfect, and so was Nana, as is everyone, but she was and always will be precious to me. And those words that changed my life still change my life to this day.
At her funeral I wore a red dress shirt. She always said I looked good in red, but I didn't like wearing the color. For her I did. A little too late, but it was important to me. My then pastor's daughter, Jessica, sang Peace Speaker at the funeral, which is a beautiful song, and every time I hear it now I get choked up. Ironically, Jessica's birthday is the same day as the day of my Nana's passing (today - so happy b-day, Jess). Over the years every time Jessica would have a birthday it was a constant reminder of who I'd lost. But then I remembered the song she sang at Nana's funeral and it brought me comfort.
I wish my brother could have known Nana better. I wish Nana would be around for my own kids should I ever have any. But that evidently wasn't God's plan, and I know He is taking care of her. I am convinced that night in the graveyard, the very same graveyard she ended up being buried at, God was giving me a sign that He had her in His care. Nothing will ever convince me otherwise.
Nana, I love you dearly and I wish you were here. But I know you're in a better place away from the suffering of this world. I miss you, and may God keep you.