Weeping over a stranger’s death…
I’m not sure what is leading me to share this with everyone, but I am weeping over the death of someone who is a stranger to me. Warren had a friend in college named Grete (not the person who died). My family met Grete at my dad’s mom’s funeral in 2001. Grete rode up from college with Warren so that he didn’t have to drive back to college if he was too upset to drive – she’d drive. We really fell in love with her. She was just a great person.
After they graduated college, Warren & Rachel’s circle of friends went all over the nation. Grete & her husband, Aaron, went to Chicago for Grete to attend grad school at DePaul. During her time in Chicago, Grete blogged and I read. I’m not sure what originally led me to Grete’s blog – I think I got there through being connected to Warren’s xanga circle. Grete had xanga (I think) and when she moved her blog, I followed to continue reading.
Let me say here that Grete is an amazing writer. She says things that I feel in words that I could never come up with.
One of her blogging subjects in Chicago was a very old family member who was a nun. Her name was Sister Sponsa. I guess that is still her name – do we lose our name in death? I’ve never thought of that.
Anyway, I read about Sister Sponsa and enjoyed Grete’s posts about her. Sister Sponsa was in her mid-nineties when Grete started writing about her.
I often commented on Grete’s blogs about Sister Sponsa. See, my grandfather (dad’s dad) passed away after a mighty fight in March 2005. He was 90. I felt he had been taken from me way too soon. I didn’t know how to deal with losing him. He’d been living in Richmond with us for a couple years and had been in the assisted living home within a mile of our house for less than a year. After he moved out of our house and into Chestnut Grove, I went to visit just about every single day. We watched Oprah together and sometimes Dr. Phil if I got there early enough after class.
I took time to take apart all of he and grandma’s photo albums with the plan to create a separate photo album of each of his four children. I never got that far. At his funeral I gave each child a box with their name on it filled with photos from my grandpa.
Grete blogged today that Sister Sponsa passed away this week. Though I didn’t know her, I sure felt like I did. At the very least, I understood how Grete felt when visiting her.
Here is part of one of Grete’s posts (Feb 3, 2006):
Some weeks, weeks when she is falling asleep and hardly seems to notice me, I wonder why I come. There are days when we have nothing to say–I’ve already asked about the family, she knows nothing of current events, anything new is too complicated to explain, she does the same thing every day, her eyes and her throat and her stomach are still bad, and it still hurts to swallow, to drink water, to eat food, to sit up. On these days, days when I don’t even know if she will remember I was there, I wonder why I come, why I have kept coming for a year and a half now. I used to come for her, now I think I come for me.
Every week I walk in and step into the elevator and scan the medical prayer request sheet, half hoping her name isn’t on it, half hoping it is. I hope her name isn’t on the list because I’m not ready; I hope it is because she is.
And here is my response to that post (Feb 9, 2006):
The end of March marks a year since my grandfather passed away. He was so sick the last three months, there were days he didn’t know who we were & talked to people who were long gone from this earth. My father held vigil by his side through the good days and the bad that last three months.
We went because in the moments he was awake and lucid, we wanted him to know we were there and that we loved him no matter what.
We never wanted him to wake up alone.
Go, go whenever you are strong enough to go. Even if she does not acknowledge your presence, she feels it and it makes a difference.
I am weeping tonight reading through Grete’s posts on Sister Sponsa. I’m weeping because I never met her. I’m weeping because Grete lives in VA now and wasn’t there at the very end. I’m weeping because I miss my grandpa.
Please pray for Grete. Please pray for Grete’s family. Please pray for the nuns in the home where Sister Sponsa lived after she was too old to work as a nun. She is home with her Father above – what could be more exciting. Grete’s words about the list in the elevator bring that home the best.
Thanks for letting me vent. I don’t think I expected to react to losing a stranger in the way that I did.