We were just a couple days into our first year of homeschooling. I was beginning schoolwork with my brand-new little kindergartner and her 2-year-old brother when I received the call. In the eerie calm of delivering bad news when still not quite grasping it oneself, my mother’s voice came over the line.
“Jen, I think Grandma just went to Heaven.”
My mind quickly jumped to the evening before when all of us had gathered around Grandma’s table, chomping on snacks and trading conversation in our characteristic loud volley. Grandma had sat at the end of the table like she always did, with Grandpa to her right. If there was any difference in Grandma, it was only that she was a bit more quiet than usual. She was always at the forefront of our lively conversations, after all.
“Are you sure?” I asked Mom, incredulously. My parents had been there to take her to a routine doctor appointment. She was eating her breakfast cereal, when she calmly laid down her spoon and slumped forward as if in sleep. My father caught her in his arms at the same moment she ran into the arms of Jesus.
On that day, I was glad that I was near and not taking my child to school. I gathered my little ones, and we rushed to stay with my confused grandfather while an ambulance rushed Grandma to the hospital. A short while later it was confirmed that she was, indeed, in Heaven with her Lord.
It was only last year that I got a similar call. My mother’s voice again, “Jen, they say Grandpa’s going to be with Jesus today.” There was not the element of shock this time. Grandpa had been gradually failing for some time.
My brother was at work, and my sister lived hours away. I was on my way to homeschool co-op with a 5th grader, a 2nd grader, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. The other moms in the co-op easily took over my responsibilities as we made our way to Grandpa’s bedside. Because of homeschooling and a flexible job at home, I was able to share Grandpa’s last hours with my parents….and my children. He went as peacefully as my Grandma, and we all were able to say our goodbyes and attend the funeral together a few days later.
Those are just two times homeschooling has enabled me and my children to participate in the weightier realities of life in this world: those things that cannot be taught in a classroom. Grief must go on, and flexibility is a great privilege and blessing during those times.
Tragedy happens to us all. We have suffered much of it. So have you. We have more to come. So have you. In our family, homeschooling has eased some of the details as our family has grieved together.