Our last visit with Nai Nai in San Francisco, Fall 2006.
Time stood very still for a moment tonight, as families left our house after Bible Study and children were put to bed, and I checked the messages on my phone at the end of a long day. There was a message from my mother relaying the unexpected, but peaceful passing of my Nai Nai, my grandmother on my dad's side, earlier this afternoon. The news caught my breath, formed immediate acuity, and cluttered my mind with thoughts, all at the same time. Yet it was not that I felt cheated, that gave me pause, for she had been given a much longer life than most. Nor was it grief, as my hope lies in that her passing was a heavenly homecoming. What caused everything to come into sharp focus in that moment was the reality that my grandmother--who fully knew the life I live now as wife, mother, immigrant, sister, daughter, follower of Christ, woman--had now completed her journey, of which an imprint is subtle, but nonetheless traceable, in my life. A heritage is left...and I am a piece of that legacy. And therein lies the acuity: She's finished the course, and I'm only beginning. What is my legacy...what heritage am I bestowing on my children and my children's children? How impossible it is to reflect on the influence of a life that's passed without considering the influence of one's own.
My thoughts flutter here and there, landing on yearnings to have known more of her--beyond the language, distance, and cultural barriers; and yet, my wandering mind finds rest in the sweet memories of a small-framed woman whose strength was proven through obstacles, whose smile and humor was contagious, and whose gifts were always received for the heart in which they were given. For these memories, and for the many ways in which her flying away has given me focus today, I am grateful for my grandmother and celebrate her life.
"The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:10, 12, ESV