It laid on top the desk in her kitchen. Around it were empty envelopes, stamps, pens, letters she'd received. It was opened. She had been reading it that very day, possibly that very hour. What words did she see? What truth did she find?
I remember getting the call on December 4th that my Nana, 84 years old, had passed away from a massive heart attack. Grandy (who had been married to her for 56 years) tried to bring her back, but it was her time to go. It was weeks before Christmas and this year was going to be different. Difficult. The whole family gathered at her and Grandy's every year to celebrate. It was the one time we all still got together since life had taken us in different directions. Friends and other family were always stopping by, bringing cakes and homemade fudge. It's the south so you don't stop by without food. Festivities lasted an entire week and Nana was the main attraction. I still remember how she lit up when we came through her kitchen door after not seeing her for months. Her high pitched voice sounded out for every visitor and no one ever left having not been a little loved on by her.
She loved people. Her heart danced when she saw her family. I don't remember her sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time and if she did, it was to tickle your arm or "milk your mouse" (my little pinkie never lasted long). That woman gave until her fingers ached, her knees were sore and her voice was hoarse. Her eyes were always outward and only looked to herself when she put in her "ear bobs".
At her funeral hundreds and hundreds of people came, some we had never met or heard of, and each told a unique story of how she had touched them, impacted them, loved them. The grocery-bagger from the store, the mailman, the new pastor who was challenged by her faith, the missionary society members who felt at a loss without her leading them. For hours at the Wake I saw my Grandy meet and greet a never-ending line of people who wanted to tell their story, some he knew, many he'd never even met himself. But all had felt a love from her they would never forget.
As I walked into her kitchen, it was quiet.
No "yoo-hoo" with footsteps coming forward to hug me.
I stood in her castle, the home-sweet-home that held decades of memories. And there on her kitchen desk, was her Bible. It was opened up to the Psalms that had undoubtedly given her a peace and strength just hours before she breathed her last.
Today, I pulled that same Bible that was given to me, off my bookshelf. I thumbed the pages, full of underlined texts, markings and notes. To Nana, it was more than a book. It carried pictures of loved ones and friends, newspaper articles of special events, quotes and sayings she had saved. And in this Bible is where she chose to keep all of that. This book held her life. Thumbing through the pages, I was once again embraced by her and impacted by that same love so many spoke of over a decade ago. It is a love that transcends time, space and even worlds.
I recognize this love is not human love that comes and goes. It is still here. Still impacting people.
It's the Father's love. The love of Jesus that had split open Nana's heart until she was busting at the seems to let it out. She did not have to try to be kind. She did not have to try to give her time and energy. Her love was His love.
And oh what a love it is!
In my own kitchen, 12 years after her passing, I look into the pages that are torn and see something I long to know more and I desire to be full of ~ not full for my own sake, even though it is an amazing, healing touch. Full for the sake of others~ neighbors, friends, family, strangers~ that I can spill out onto them the same Love.