My grandmother passed away on Sunday. We anticipated her final hour for days, assuming on Friday that the slowing down of vital signs, the coma, the cold extremities meant the end was near. She tricked us. She made a liar out of me. I told my children Sunday morning that I was sure she was waiting for someone or something - no different from her mother who lived to 94 and after waiting to hold her only great-grandson, peacefully passed away the same night. Not ten minutes after sharing my theory with my boys, my mom called to let me know Grandma - or Bachan as my children call her - had passed away. Boy did I feel silly.
We want to make sense of death. We want to tell ourselves there is more - something beyond this earthly existence, which makes us no different from our relatives from the beginning of time. There is something in our beings, in our genetic make-up that encourages many of us to become religious in those final minutes - and immediately following death. People in my family agree she is in a better "place" but how many use the word Heaven? They know she is with her husband of fifty years - but how many use the word spirits or souls? How many attend church on a regular basis or share their faith? As a whole, we don't. But when someone we love dies, there is a feeling, an inclination, something in our - dare I say souls - that begs for an explanation. And I find it interesting, intriguing that no one says God or faith or Heaven as we prefer to use euphemisms and even stutter when the word "Heaven" would so aptly fill that space in a sentence.
The day before she finally passed, I told my boys that I was SURE it would be Saturday because it was November 23rd. I had this epiphany while taking a shower at 5:00 am. They knew exactly what I meant - 23 is my lucky number. It was a lucky day! We were heading to a tournament to freeze our tushies in Long Island, to watch my oldest son play in four lacrosse games, leaving New York City at 5:45 am and we were excited! Excited because we were SURE Bachan and Grandpa would be two more spectators at the game. And we laughed - my boys and me - because it was fine. We even used words like God and Heaven. And it made it all okay.