Seven years ago, on April 23rd, I became a grandmother, and my life changed beyond measure.
Bailey Ramon. A gift from my past, brought into the present, to change the future. Son of my daughter Erin and her husband Andrae, he arrived on an Easter Sunday.
I drove over twelve straight hours, from Louisiana to Kansas, with my daughter Shannon. Ribbons of highway winding tighter and tighter around the wheels of my car until we reached him. Holding Bailey in my arms was and is the most astounding moment of my existence. Truly, it was as if God said, “This is why I created you. For this minute, to hold this treasure, to understand this love.”
Thirty days later, God took Bailey home.
Once again, my life changed, but this time beyond something I never wanted or expected to have to measure.
I thought I knew grief; after all, my parents had died before I reached the age of forty. I was wrong. Grief is picking out caskets not cribs. Grief is helping your daughter dress for her son’s funeral. Grief is sending flowers to your grandson’s grave on his birthday, not balloons to his party.
Bailey’s funeral was held in the church his parents married. He is buried next to his father’s grandfather. Near there is a bench on which Erin and Andrae had these words, attributed to Oswald Chambers, engraved: “We are born into this world, and we may never know to whose prayers our lives were the answer.”
In his precious days on earth, Bailey answered my prayer for forgiveness. Erin’s pregnancy healed a relationship between the two of us that had been broken for too many years. He answered my prayer for acceptance. Andrae, my son-in-law, is a compassionate, gentle, and courageous young man. He is black. We are not. I was raised in a household of prejudice that I never wanted my own children to experience. We lived Martin Luther King Jr.’s petition that we judge others by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Bailey taught me to appreciate the sacrament of the moment. His too brief time with us reminded me that none of us will know when will be called home. None of us should ever take for granted the time we have together. We don’t know the price we’ll have to pay for that until it’s too late. Some people in my daughter’s life chose not to acknowledge Bailey’s birth because of his father’s race. People who proclaim and upheld themselves to be Christians. People who never saw Bailey until the day he was buried.
Because of Bailey, I am reminded to live a life worthy of the reward of storming the gates of heaven at my death. Nothing, no nothing, will stop me from-once again-holding my grandson.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the sea..” Psalm 46:1-2.
.forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God…For our citizenship is in heaven…” Philippians 3;14, 20