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I Shouldn't Have Been Surprised

grace Jun 06, 2024

**TRIGGER WARNING: includes content related to suicide**

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see them.  When I was growing up and especially when I went away to college I wrote frequent letters to my maternal grandparents – aka Nan and Pop – keeping them abreast of new classes and jobs and friends in my life, while they told me about their post-retirement volunteer activities and travel.  It was a fun way to keep in touch when we weren’t living nearby. 

“They must be up here for more civil air patrol training,” I thought, as they had visited another time for such a course.  I couldn’t see them yet but had glimpsed their sedan parked around the side of the garage as I drove up the rural lane to the house.  “They must be trying to surprise me!” I chuckled to myself.

Sure enough, as I stepped out of my blue hatchback and headed up the front walk, Pop hopped out from around the corner with a big grin and Nan stepped out on the porch and gave me a big hug.  “Everything will be all right!” she said with cheerful and absolute certainty.

And then I bolted awake, shaking from the palpable reality of the dream.  In the pre-dawn darkness it took me a moment to figure out where I was.  The past two days I’d been helping my parents move, and while they had headed back across the desert for one last load in the rental truck I’d settled their pet birds and fallen asleep in the unfamiliar new house.  

Now several hours later I was wide awake, pondering the unexpected message my grandparents had delivered.  Because while the dream had them poised at the empty ranchette my soon-to-be-ex- and I had recently vacated, they’d never been there before, having passed on seven years earlier.  They didn’t know about the divorce, or my great distress over finding homes for the many animals, or the unpaid leave I was on while working through the process.  At least I’d thought they didn’t, but grace came anyway, just like it had those seven years prior.  So I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

In the days after learning of Nan and Pop’s suicides, I was haunted by the fact that I’d missed a recent informal family reunion with them and other far-flung relatives.  I had promised to fly down to visit later in the summer, but now I didn’t have that chance.  In my despair I’d turned to prayer, and after a couple of days was able to sleep more peacefully.  That was when Pop had appeared in a similarly vivid dream, gleefully shouting “I’m still alive!  I shut my eyes and opened them, again and again, and I’m still here!”  He sounded so grateful to discover his being continued despite the demise of the physical body, and he seemed to want us to know all was well.  I woke with a start and with a new and deep awareness that both my grandparents really were okay, and we would be, too.  It was a message of grace, a pleasant surprise.


By: Georgianna Pfost
Holy Lament Member

Grief isn't an illness or mistake, it is a natural and sacred response to life’s inevitable losses. It is also a crucible for transformation. 

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