When God Winks at You

June 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a little book called When God Winks at You. It’s the kind of book you can pick up and read in bits here and there. Every time I open it, I’m always glad I did.

From the book’s description: “As you read . . . , you will begin to recognize the godwinks in your own life, both past and present. Through these tangible signposts from God, we receive personalized messages that reassure us, stop us from worrying, chart our path.” So I’ve been thinking about some of the godwinks I’ve experienced over the years. I’d like to share one of them.

I want to preface this by saying that I realize I’ve been writing a lot about my grandma this year, a lot about grief. Sometimes I feel bad about that. This is birth blog, after all, not a death blog. Most of my readers are too young to have lost their parents to death (though I personally know some of you have known that grief). Losing my grandmother was, in a very real sense, like losing a parent (for me). And losing our parents is no small thing, especially when it happens while we’re still “young” ourselves. I hope you’ll forgive me for occasionally straying from my blog’s intended subject matter as I process this loss.

Now on to the godwink story…

Back in January of this year, I decided I was ready to give myself permission to grieve my grandma’s death. After my parents’ divorce when I was a toddler, my grandmother had raised me, called me her “baby,” saved my life. Her loss was pretty earth-shattering to my soul, but it took me nearly a year to muster the courage to face what had happened to me when I lost her. As I began to explore my grief, a painful well of guilt emerged.

In voicing all the mixed-up emotions, concerns, and thoughts in my guilt-ridden heart, I cried:

* What if she’s disappointed in me?
* What if she’s angry at me for not being there for her in the last few years of her life?
* What if she’s angry I didn’t come to her side while she died?
* Why didn’t I do more for her when she was alive?
* Why didn’t I write more letters in the last few years?
* Why did I stop calling her every Sunday?
* What if she’s disappointed in me?
* What if she’s disappointed in me?
* What if she’s disappointed in me?

Then in February, I was flipping through my journal, reading bits of this past year here and there. Eventually, I came to the entry where I wrote about my last conversation with Grandma.

Grandma had been recovering in a care center after having her leg amputated, working to get ready to go home and adjust to her new life without her leg. On this particular day, she was very emotional, discouraged, and distressed. She had asked my sister to call me and tell me that she “wanted to die.” In part because of her pain medication, she was having trouble speaking and her words were slurred and sort of difficult to understand, especially over the phone, but it is still a conversation I will cherish until we meet again.

I’ll transcribe some of the journal entry here…

May 28, 2012 

I spoke to Grandma about a week ago. I was able to tell her, “If you want to go or need to go, it’s OK. You can go.” She said she knew they were going to bring a bunch of people in there and tell her not to. But I reiterated that it was OK for her to go. Then she just told me over and over and over, with so much feeling and conviction, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I think I knew in that moment that we were saying good-bye.

Remembering her words and her voice in that bittersweet conversation brought tears to my eyes. As I finished reading the entry, my eyes wandered to the top of the opposite page. There I had written some notes from a speaker I had listened to the day before Grandma died. His words had really touched and impacted me at the time. The speaker had focused on one particular verse of scripture and how it could help us to be more forgiving of others. So I had written down the key points he made, like this:

* It mattereth not.
* I am not angry.
* I do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.

I had forgotten about that speaker’s words until then—that day in February, as I struggled within myself, worrying that Grandma was disappointed in me for failing to better demonstrate my love for her. At first I just skimmed over the journal entry, not really paying attention to what I was reading, but then I inwardly gasped and re-read it a few times. With each re-reading, I felt more certain that it was no coincidence that I had heard and written those words when/where I did.

It seemed that Grandma was reaching across time to speak to me, to tell me: “It doesn’t matter. I’m not angry. I do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. Stop whipping yourself about this! I love you!” That day I finally let go of my guilt. I finally forgave myself and accepted the forgiveness and love Grandma had been extending to me all along.

When Grandma lay on her deathbed, I thought I was at peace with letting her go. I didn’t know a well of pain and guilt was lurking in my subconscious, waiting to overtake me many months later. But God knew what was coming. And I see it as a beautiful godwink that I was inspired to write those words in my journal the day before Grandma passed from this life.

Thank you, God.