then in heaven.” This is how my Grandma Slenk would end her conversations with people with whom she did not have the chance to visit very often. Cousins in the Netherlands, people she ran into from a bygone era of her life, folks who came to visit her in assisted living. She said it rather cheerily, as she said most things, and found it not at all morbid.
My grandma was the type of woman who threw her head back and laughed. A lot. If you know my mother, you’ll see that this is a delightfully inherited trait. Grandma didn’t understand why people who shared her age would ever wish to die. She relished every minute on earth. And yet, this strange phrase was her standard farewell.
Yesterday I used my grandma’s farewell for the first time. It was to an old elementary school and high school classmate whom I rarely see, but whose shared disease has brought us back into one another’s lives. She died yesterday, and I’m not sure anyone even read my farewell to her before she took her last breath, but in writing it I finally understood how my grandma, who loved life so much, could say it.
Living with one foot in glory is OK. In fact, living with one foot in glory may make us much more able to throw our heads back and laugh when the laughing time comes again.
But for today I’m remembering my friend from a bygone era. Who entered glory far too early.