To live is Christ; to die is gain

Those closest to me would know that I have great reverence for Nanay Norma, my maternal grandmother. We shared the same room and she would be the one to wake me up for school and prepare my breakfast and some hot water for bath. We had a love-and-hate relationship, Nanay and I, but only because we both can be fretful and we end up arguing about it. But how I loved her! I remember my mother telling me once how when I was a baby, I’d wake up on a Saturday morning and after realizing my parents were the ones sleeping next to me, I’d rise from bed and run to the other room where Nanay was sleeping. She would also let me sleep beside her when I had a fever and would be the one to wake me up to drink my medicine in the middle of the night.

Now that I’m twenty-five, living on my own in a different country, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like had she lived past sixty. I wonder what it would have been like if she’d seen me graduate college or send me off to the United States when I got offered a job here. Tears would come spilling down my cheeks whenever I remember her. I can’t help it, I still miss her.

A few weeks ago, I was at a church friend’s house to honor a relative of theirs, a woman of God, who recently passed away. While our pastor was speaking words of encouragement, I couldn’t help but be emotional. It reminded me of Nanay because she, too, was a woman of God, and for the longest time I couldn’t fathom how one who loved God so much could be taken away so early.

One thing our pastor said that struck me was that God is The Great Healer…and that often times when we pray for certain illnesses to be healed, we think that He would heal them by bringing them back their healthy bodies, but there is another form of healing; one that is permanent and can only be given when we reach the High Places where there are no illnesses, pain, or suffering.

When my father found Nanay lying on the floor one Sunday morning, dressed to go to church, from our room I heard him calling her, “Nanay! Nanay!” I hurriedly got up from bed and saw her drenched in her own urine. Half her body was already paralyzed. My father and mother quickly tried to change her clothes so they could bring her to the hospital and Nanay tried to resist them. Even when Nanay’s brother came to help them bring her to the hospital, Nanay tried to resist them. With half her body still functioning, she held on to the door frame. She didn’t want to be taken to the hospital.

She was in the ICU for twelve days and in those twelve days, I only visited her once…two days before she passed because I couldn’t bare to see her suffering. It was heartbreaking to see Nanay, a strong woman that she was, looking so frail and thin on the hospital bed, with a tube on her throat to feed her. I often thought that maybe Nanay tried to resist my parents from taking her to the hospital because she didn’t want my parents to be burdened by the hospital bills…but maybe there was more to it. Maybe she was just simply ready…ready to meet with the Creator, the One she joyfully served for years. Maybe she was ready to reach the High Places where there was no suffering and pain.

I guess in a way, it is only now that I get to accept her passing. I still miss her and a huge part of me wishes she could have been with me through all my milestones but now I have peace in knowing that she is finally with the Lord and that she is probably one of the many who are singing praises and worshiping God in His throne.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)

All this time, she must have been so assured of the promise of God—a citizenship in Heaven and being able to come face to face with the Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father, words cannot express how You keep blowing me away through Your revelations. Only You can sustain me, whether through triumph or trials. I pray that You help me continue to immerse myself with Your Word so that I may get to know You and bask in awe and wonder of Your Glorious Name. I pray comfort for anyone who has lost someone; those that were left behind…that they may find refuge in You for only You can give them an incomparable peace.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

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