My grandma came and visited my family one Easter weekend in elementary school. She flew all the way from Chicago, and even though we were devout sabbath observing Adventists, we spent all week including the previous Friday and Saturday making the house beautiful for my beautiful grandmother.
Meeting her at the airport, we waited to see her come out of baggage claim and when her skinny happy face came through the automatic doors, a teary and face holding reunion happened instantly.
On Friday night, I knocked on grandma’s door in the guest room, and followed by my brother, we crawled on the edge of the bed, giggling because we got to watch TV on the Sabbath, BET if I remember correctly, and because of the good and warm feeling of being close to someone we loved and admired.
The next morning was Easter sabbath and we all put on our pastel dresses and ties. I remember watching grandma put on her expensive Chicago clothes. She wore big pearl clip on earrings and a church hat. The outfit was finished with one too many sprays of Givenchy perfume. I got to wear a few squirts too.
Grandma didn’t go to church much, maybe that’s why she listened to the sermon so hard that sabbath morning. The language of resurrection touched her. She was drawn to a God that suffered, but was lifted up on the third day.
She didn’t care that no one else clapped and stood during moving parts of the sermon, the gospel flowed through regardless. She felt blessed and highly favored.
At lunch, later in a restaurant, I sat close to grandma and felt buzzed up by her energy. It was good to see her feel touched by the Lord. I believed in the resurrection that day because the evidence was there in my grandma. The sun was shining so bright and God was alive and well.
The resurrection was my hope to see my grandma in her dress again. She passed away while I was in high school, and the funeral was filled with language of reconnection. I had total confidence that she was high in heaven and lifted up, glowing in glory with a crown of stars around her head.
During class, I drew small sketches of her floating in eternal bliss. Resurrected and dignified she was now doing angel’s work—guiding family members on paths of right living, looking at her reflection in the streets of gold.
Now I’ve adopted a more, “on earth as it is in heaven” motto. I’m more convinced that work here and now matters the most, rather than hopeful heaven wishing.
God’s work of justice, of setting the captives free is pertinent now and more accepted within my new heady and conceptual circles. It feels dry, but the pay off Is measurable; conviction and praxis—good works.
Still, when I say my prayers, I switch into a quiet pleading, asking God to lift up my family members that are gone and sometimes forgotten. In a tiny corner of my heart, I think grandma hears me and watches over me and is with me and all of us who love her and miss her dearly.
In my dreams, she is walking in new life and having a good time. Maybe God let her keep the cigarettes. She’s waiting until we are all resurrected into new minds and bodies.
I don’t know if I believe this, but my heart sure does. Until then I will keep a little hope in the resurrection and ponder of being pleasantly surprised.