Grandma’s Unfinished Business

My beloved Grandma died after a months-long fight with lung cancer. I was just 17 and this was the first time I experienced the passing of someone close to me. My heart was broken and I was angry at God. There are many evil people in this world, and so why did He let my Grandma die while some bad people are living healthy lives? I really wanted an answer from God. I believed that was a fair question and demanded an answer.
Fortunately for me, we did visit Grandma during the spring break about two months prior to her death. Just before our visit, she was losing consciousness frequently. But God had mercy on her. One night, she regained consciousness enough for my mother to talk to her about coming to Christ, led her through the sinner’s prayer, and baptized her in the bathtub. My grandfather, who was a Buddhist at the time, saw it but did not object. She fell into unconsciousness again and remain that way most of the time.
While we were in Taiwan visiting her, she regained consciousness more frequently. She had a stoma so she could not speak. When she was awake, we would hold hands and I would try to hold back my tears. Sometimes she will look at the ceiling and even try to extend her hands to touch something in the air. When we try to make her put her hands down, she would look at us with a perplexed look. Maybe she was seeing an angel and wanted to touch him. She couldn’t tell us.
At that time, my grandfather was diagnosed with possible prostate cancer, and the doctor recommended its removal. Grandpa initially refused. “The woman I love is dying,” he said, “and I do not wish to live on.” But at that time while we were in Taiwan, Grandma was conscious more often than before. So one of my aunts told him that Grandma is getting better and it’d be tragic if she recovers and he dies. That convinced him to undergo the surgery. I was there to help prep him for the surgery. The surgery was a success and he lived for another 17 years.
But Grandma died two months later. I asked the Lord why. I’m sure most people asked God that question after their loved ones pass away, but I actually don’t know any who got an answer from God. Yet God chose not to stay silent this time around.
One night I had a dream. In that dream, my siblings and I were playing in my grandparents’ little drug store in Taipei. We spent a lot of time there as children and it was like a second home for us. At the cashier’s desk where Grandpa normally sits, however, sat our Grandma. Her face was emotionless. She simply stared at us. In the dream, I was troubled, and so I asked the clerk, “Grandma is gone. How come she is still here?” The clerk responded, “She came back because she had some unfinished business to take care of.”
The dream was weird and I did not ask any adults for the meaning of that dream. Yet in the months that followed, I came to realize what it meant. Grandma was supposed to have passed away even earlier, but God kept her alive and let her regain consciousness more often and for longer periods of time while we were visiting her. That was done so my Grandpa would undergo the surgery to remove the prostate so he can live. At that time, he was still not a Christian and God promised me years ago that my Grandpa will be saved one day. If Grandpa had not undergone the surgery, he may have died soon after my Grandma, perhaps as an unsaved person.
It would be another 17 years before Grandpa came to Christ, just a few weeks before he passed away. He had the opportunity to play with his first great-granddaughter a few times and hear about the birth of his first great-grandson before he died.
That dream was God’s answer to my question about Grandma’s death, but it was not the answer most people expected. Instead of telling me why He let her die, He told me that our time of death is in His hands and He can change it at will. Grandma was supposed to die earlier, but God delayed it to save my Grandpa and keep His promise to me. Hopefully knowing that our time and manner of death is in His hands can help ease our pain in losing a loved one. He showed me that our death is not God’s failure to protect or heal us; it’s just a transition to another stage of our existence.

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