“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” ~ Job 1:21
My grandmother, lovingly called Duckie, had been fading for months and we all knew it. But she had a goal: to live long enough to meet my daughter. She had battled cancer on and off for 10 years.
On 7-22-16 at 7:00pm, our baby girl Grace-Lynn was born. Although she was a week early, she was just perfect, healthy, and totally adorable. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to be a mother to my own flesh and blood, something we never thought would happen. I’m blissfully in love and I can’t get enough of her.
The morning Gracie and I left the hospital, we drove 90 miles to get to Duckie. I was determined to get that baby girl in her arms at least once before she left us. Thank God Gracie came early; it’s as if God knew we were running out of time and He wanted them to have that moment together.
So Duckie got to hold Gracie, just one time, but it was all we had hoped for. Gracie cuddled up in Duckie’s arms and actually smiled. Duckie was so happy to see me as a mom and to see that my baby girl was really here. She had a sense of accomplishment on her face as she held Gracie, as if to say, “I did what I needed to do and now I can rest.”
Before handing Gracie back to me, Duckie leaned down to her and told her, “Engrave this in your memory; somehow remember me.”
I know Gracie won’t remember that day but I will be certain she remembers that day happened. Even if she won’t know Duckie, Duckie knew her and loved her and that’s something Gracie will know growing up. Gracie will have a copy of this picture of her Duckie loving and holding her:
She will know Duckie fought with all her strength to make it long enough to give her kisses and hold her hand. I’m so grateful and proud of my Duckie for fighting as hard as she did. I’m so grateful she refused to die before Gracie was here. It doesn’t take the pain of her loss away but it lessens it just a bit.
Before leaving that day, I had a few minutes with my Duck. We got to say our goodbyes and we both knew it would be our last goodbye. We cried together, held hands and hugged. She gave me some advice that I’ll never forget: to enjoy my baby girl, to have fun with her and be a fun mom. She told me change is a good thing and not to fear it. She told me to stay close to my cousin, and that we were the strongest (and maybe the most ornery) but also the most compassionate. She said we are the ones who would take care of the others when they’re in need. She told me to center my life around Jesus Christ and not try to make it without him again. We both agreed with a small chuckle that the last time I tried to live on my own it didn’t go so well. Then she told me to “go be happy” and I promised her I would do all the above.
She told my husband Shawn to take care of me and Gracie and he tearfully promised he would.
We gave her kisses and before the tears stopped, we left. I hated walking away because I knew in my heart it was the last time I’d walk away from her.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, but I am certain if I didn’t have my baby Grace it would have been a million times harder.
On 7-29-16 at 11:00am, my grandmother passed from this world to the next. She finally won the ultimate prize of being with Jesus for eternity.
Within a week, my family was given a new life in Grace-Lynn and we had the life of our Duckie taken away. I’ve never felt so many massive, life-altering emotions in such a short time. It’s been a growing experience to see life naturally begin and naturally end right in front of my eyes. I know Gracie came early so Duckie could meet her. Even though I’m so sad, I’m also comforted by the realization that what I’ve always been told is true: God gives and takes away. Why, I do not know, and I wish it could be different. But I’m choosing to live by faith in the unknown. I choose to believe this gain and loss will work together for good. I’m choosing to believe that though not on this earth, my Duckie is walking this road of motherhood by my side. I choose to believe Gracie may have lost the chance to know Duckie but she has gained a guardian angel. I choose to believe that life — whether brand new or fading away — matters. Every moment counts, and I will always do my best to never take a single breath for granted.
Regardless of life’s changes, good or bad (Duckie told me change is a good thing, right?) I’m choosing to say, “Life is good.”
Editor’s Note: Read more about Jamie Jeffries on her blog.