Those who wish to sing, will always find a song. ~ Swedish Proverb
Interesting thought. I've never been the world's most optimistic person. My friends and family will tell you that I really should be a disaster planner. Seeing the negative has always been a forte of mine. Not something I should be proud of. I've always wanted to be a more optimistic person. But so far, that hasn't worked out for me.
If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that the past couple of months have been somewhat difficult for our family. My mother in law was taken to the hospital the last week of July and after quite a roller coaster ride, she passed away on September 24, 2011 at the age of 81.
I read that Proverb this morning and knew that she had given me that gift this morning. We've often joked in our family that Grandma Pat (my mother in law) had a song for everything. During any normal conversation someone would say something that would trigger a specific song in her mind and she would begin to sing it as if it had been scripted right into that very conversation.
During her funeral preparations, one of the tasks assigned to me by my father in law was to create the collage of pictures of Pat that would be set out for the service. I spent hours going through pictures. It was interesting that I had been assigned that particular task.
My husband received the unexpected phone call last Friday morning that his mom probably only had 24 hours left. Although she had been fighting many battles over the past couple of months and was placed under hospice care just days before she passed, we were all under the impression that she would have several months before we needed to be concerned about her death.
He left our home and traveled the two and a half hours immediately after the phone call. I waited to hear from him.
After my children returned home from school, I told them about Grandma. They decided that they wished to go see her one last time to say "Goodbye."
So - at 4:00 pm I put all four of my children into the car and we began our drive. But we didn't get very far.
The traffic in our area was unprecedented. In all the years I've lived here I have never seen anything like it. All of the roads were jammed in all directions. Every exit ramp. Side street. Highway. It was truly unbelievable. It took us 3 1/2 hours to travel 18 miles.
I finally needed to stop to get gas. So I took the exit and counted 107 cars in the parking lot of the WaWa. The lines outside of the bathrooms and at the gas pumps were incredible. No one knew what the problem was. It was bizarre to say the least.
While I watched the confusion - I thought about everything. I debated back and forth whether I should turn around and just try again to see my mother in law in the morning. I wavered. I hesitated. I had no clue what to do. Should I just see it through? But when Daughter returned to the car, she had a stomach ache. I knew at that moment, we would turn around.
As we drove home, I passed the miles of traffic that we had just spent the past 3 hours sitting in. As I watched the cars, I knew they signified the fact that there was no way I would reach my mother in law or my husband tonight. I would need to pray that we would make it in the morning. And in a flash - just like that we were home.
I went through all of our pictures. 1000s and 1000s of them. I flicked through the pictures slowly one by one looking for all of the pictures of Pat. Then I went out and shared them with my kids. Each picture was a memory that sparked a conversation. After much talk - I retired to bed.
My husband called me and we talked. I stayed up to watch the 11 o clock news waiting to find out what tragedy had taken place to cause such a traffic jam in our area. I wanted to know what had happened to keep my family from reaching Grandma Pat. But they said nothing. Not a word.
As my husband and I hung up - he said, "You know if something happens tonight you'll have to be okay with that." I replied, "Nothing will happen. We will get to see her in the morning. I need to thank her for her son."
I tossed and turned for a bit. Unable to sleep. I think I finally settled down sometime around 1:00 am. Suddenly I was awakened with the phone ringing. I looked at the clock. It was 2:25 a.m. I answered.
On the other end - I heard my husband's soft voice.
"You know why I am calling, right?"
And, yes, I did. I knew as soon as the phone rang. My mother in law had passed away at 2:10 a.m.
I awoke the kids and told each of them separately and alone in their beds. Then I returned to mine.
One by one - they filed into my room and onto my bed. They had questions. I didn't have many answers.
We got into the car at 6:30 a.m. and once again set out on our trip.
There was no traffic.
It was nothing like what we had endured just 12 hours prior.
We did not get to say goodbye.
I do not know why all of that traffic was blocking our way.
But I do know what it is like when a door has been closed.
We were not supposed to get there that night. Of that I am certain.
Perhaps sometime in the future I will be able to write about the experience from a mother's perspective and how it affected my kids. But as of now - it's all too fresh to try. I honestly didn't believe that I would ever write about it so soon. If at all.
The night before the funeral I was sitting on the floor of the guest room in Pat's home, going through the dozens of photo albums she had kept. I was searching for pictures with each of the 15 grandchildren. Making sure they each got to see themselves with Grandma in a photo.
I was struck by the fact that in every single picture - her face was lit up. There was never a bad picture. Never caught in mid blink. Never anything other than a wide smile from ear to ear. Looking as if that particular moment was the grandest of her life.
She was a happy person.
All of the time.
Hence the singing.
Hence the thought she sent me this morning...
"Those who wish to sing, will always find a song."
Maybe it is time to shed that pessimistic attitude of mine.
I believe my mother in law is asking me this morning if I wish to sing.
Like a canary...