March 7, 2012

Life as I knew it

Will never be the same. My precious Nonee went home to be with Jesus yesterday. In His mercy, this was not a drawn out affair, but neither was it anticipated. Nonee had a fall this weekend and she decided it was time to be done with all of this waiting around to dance again with hips and knees that work like they should.

I miss her terribly, and have missed her since living so far away for so many years. Only now I can't press the speed dial button and talk to her till she tells me she's running up my phone bill, and I insist I have unlimited minutes. But they were limited after all, weren't they? You were right, Nonee.

I can't possibly write a post that describes her well. "How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?" comes to mind. I can say that she loved fiercely, with loyalty and generosity. She was too apologetic and thought people really ought to be able to read her mind. She wasn't afraid to cruise around the world, but say you saw a lizard near her front door and she'd have palpitations. Nonee hated to be called "She" by the way--"She who?" she'd say. No pronouns for Nonee in her presence.

Nonee liked things just so: her bed to be made (with lots of pillows), her hair to be set, her family to be near, her wine to be chilled, her dinner to be the same as ever (weight watchers, lean cuisine, even though she was tiny as a minute), her Christmas cards sent on time or not at all, her coffee weak and black. And there was no convincing her to give up her independence; that would have to be taken from her and she could put up a (polite, firm, and winning) fight. Apparently only God was going to win this one. Stubborn one, this gal.

But besides all that independence was her sparkle. Nonee was a performer--I mean the real deal, with facial expressions (her dreamy silver screen look, the graceful mannerisms, and all) and with a way of dancing her way around a room. Until her body was too owie to dance, of course. But I remember so many times despite her swollen knee, I'd catch her doing little tap routines in the kitchen. She'd sing, raise her eyebrows, and--eyes twinkling--bite her bottom lip as she headed into the break and her dance solo, more compact and quiet in her slippers than it once was when she was a girl. But it was unmistakably Nonee.

Her prayers were sincere and her devotion to the Lord expressed on her knees. In one of the last clear moments of her life she lamented about not being able to get on her knees to pray (obviously not with her hip, leg and wrist broken and barely enough energy to keep her eyes open after that fall). I told her I would do that for her, but she didn't need me to. It's not her body but her spirit that was bowed before God and that's more important anyway. Mary, the mother of Christ was important to Nonee, being a tender and welcoming and safe conduit for her devotions. I wonder what it's like right now for Nonee--seeing Mary, Christ, her sisters, face to face, and whole again. No tears of sorrow or pain. I am so glad her struggle is over. And selfishly I am sad for my loss.

My family will gather to say "goodbye" together in a memorial service on St. Patrick's day. I don't think there is any mistake in the fact that I have a plane ticket for that date--but the destination is Haiti, not California. Lord, why??? Why this timing? Why when we were going to get to see Nonee in just a couple of months before moving to Houston is she gone from us? And why call me to go to Haiti to serve you in a hurting place, instead of to the place where I am hurting? Nonee was excited for me to go--we talked about it last week. And now it will cost me the experience of the last family gathering with Nonee at its center. This hurts and I hope I get some glimpse as to what your purposes are in it.

My Nonee was beautiful and funny and she taught me to love God and the church and my family. I'm fearful like she was, prone to stubbornness, and oversensitivity. Is hypochondria and anxiety genetic? I think I get it from her if it is. But oh, if there is any of her gentle spirit, her grace and her sparkle in me, I can only thank God for every last drop of it.

Nonee, I love you. The world is smaller without you in it and my heart carries more ache, but I would not give any of that up for one fewer day with you. Thank you, Lord, for my Nonee, for every day of her life that you ordained and blessed us with. Your mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Okay, I'm balling now as if I wasn't already. I love you!