Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Loving Memory of Lillian Parramore Dickerson

It was the week before our wedding, and my mind was all aflutter with everything I had to accomplish: pick up my dress and shoes, write two papers and study for an exam, get the ribbons tied on the programs and wrap the bridesmaids gifts, finalize things with the reception venue, pack for the honeymoon, the list went on and on. In the middle of all this, my mom informed me I needed to call my grandmother back because she had a question about our fine china. I never got around to calling her back, I just assumed I could talk with her about it during the rehearsal dinner. Little did I know that it would have been my last chance to talk to her as I had always known her--bright, caring and full of life.

The night of our wedding rehearsal arrived, and my Dad and I were in the foyer of the church with my wedding director getting ready to practice him escorting me down the aisle. We were already running a little behind due to most of the wedding party getting stuck in traffic on the way to the church, and right as we were ready to cue the music, my Aunt and Uncle walked in the foyer doors. We turned around to wave at them really quickly, but they signaled that they needed to talk to my Dad. He went over to speak with them for a few minutes, and my wedding planner and I started to get impatient because we thought they were simply catching up. So to speed things up a little, I called out "Dad!" and he turned with that look in his face that said there was something seriously wrong. When he was finally able to join us again, I hooked my arm in his and he told me that my grandmother just had an aneurysm. It was the last thing I expected to hear, and I don't know exactly how to describe my response. I was shocked and just kept asking my Dad questions to keep from getting upset on our practice trip down the aisle.

It didn't hit me until the actual dinner started later that evening that my grandmother would not be at our wedding, something I knew she had been looking forward to for quite some time. I had a short cry in the bathroom with my mom and best friend Jenny, and then tried to enjoy the rest of the evening. The wedding went on the next day like a dream, but I couldn't help but feel like something very special was missing. Once Kyle and I returned from Jamaica, we went to see her in the ICU at Emory in Atlanta. During our honeymoon, she'd had brain surgery and it was very difficult to see her the way she was, limbs swollen and staples in her head from the large surgery incision. I was able to hold her hand and receive a small response from her, and Kyle and I prayed fervently over her for her healing. And that was the last time I saw her.

After a long journey of one step forward and two steps back, Meemaw passed away and became united with our precious Savior on August 12, 2010. This entire experience has been very humbling, opening my eyes to just how self-focused I was before our wedding. It definitely forces you to take a step back and really realize how each day is a gift, and you never know if you will have tomorrow. I don't know how many times I've heard people around me say that, and I would just pass it off, but now I know what they are talking about. It makes you wonder at the end of the day, what have I done today that has eternal value? {"All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overcome to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:15-18}

Words are not enough to thank everyone who came out to her visitation and funeral, it meant so much to have that reassuring support system around us. I think the most meaningful moment was near the end of the burial service, and my Pawpaw was sitting by himself on one of the chairs under the tent. He had finished speaking with everyone, and people were slowly trickling back to their cars and headed home. Pawpaw was content to sit there and gaze upon his bride, soaking up those last few moments before they put her in the ground. I can't imagine what was going through his head, but from the peace on his face I know I just had a glimpse of true love.

Meemaw, you are dearly missed, but I look forward to seeing you again someday!


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