Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chapter 14, part 3: Bad News

By early March, the infectious disease specialist gave me a clean bill of health and discontinued the antibiotics.

“What will you be doing over spring break?” Ian asked on our final drive together back from Avondale.

“I can’t believe it’s already less than a week away. I’ll be flying home tomorrow and visiting my Oma every chance I get,” I answered.

“How is she doing?”

“She looked great at Christmas, considering everything. My mom says she thinks Oma’s been making more improvement since then. Shows you doctors don’t know everything. They thought she’d reached a plateau.”

“The doctors didn’t know you had everyone in CSF praying for her. Praise to Yahweh Rapha, the God who Heals,” Ian said. “Of course, you would know. He healed you too.”

“Yeah.” I shifted in my seat, wanting to change the subject. I didn’t want to be known as the sick girl anymore. “I’m so ready for Spring Break! But first I have to get a monster paper for my German Literature class written and turned in.”

That night I worked hard on the paper. I got so in the zone that it took a moment to register the source of the sound when a Skype call from home came in. I briefly debated ignoring the call so I wouldn’t lose my train of thought... Too late, the train was derailed already.

I accepted the video chat and waited for the picture to load.

Tears streamed down Mom’s face. “Gigi, honey, it’s your Oma. She had another stroke. She’s gone.”

“Gone? But she was fine last time I saw her,” I said. “You said she was doing better.”

Lacey came up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder. I controlled the urge to shake it off.

“It was sudden and quick, thankfully,” Mom continued. “The doctor says she didn’t suffer.”

I kept expecting tears to come, but my eyes remained dry. At least I had seen her when I was home for Christmas. Who knew that would be the last time? Still, I wished I had been there for her last moments. Maybe if I had taken the semester off or continued my studies from home like Mom wanted, I’d have been there.

“Am I going to miss the funeral?”

“No, the memorial service isn’t until Saturday. Then you’ll have the rest of spring break to mourn and visit with family before diving back into your studies.”

“My studies! I can’t think about this now,” I groaned. My paper was only half finished.

“I’ll let you go. Call back if you want to talk about it some more. Don’t worry about the time.”

When Mom ended the video chat, I stood, not sure what to do next.

Lacey started to embrace me. “Oh, honey,” she said.

I knew if I let her touch me the tears would come. I’d never finish this paper if I started crying now. “Leave me alone!” I said with more vehemence than I intended.

“I was just trying to help,” Lacey said, putting her hand on my arm. “You’ve been through so much.”

I did shake her off that time. “You’ve helped enough.” I grabbed my laptop and fled the room.

In the dorm’s lobby I found a couch and hunkered down to work on my paper. Somehow I managed to push my grief aside long enough to eke out a reasonable conclusion to my analysis of the short stories of Thomas Kleist. I uploaded it to Dr. Eberhardt’s website and crept back to the room I shared with Lacey.

I overslept the next day and missed a class. Lacey hadn’t bothered to wake me. Guess I deserved that. Hopefully we could both cool off and be friends again by the time I came back.

I walked numbly through the rest of my classes and through the motions of packing that afternoon. I let Phoebe do most of the talking on the drive to the airport. I thought I’d be able to let loose and cry once I was in the solitude of anonymity on the plane, but tears wouldn’t come. What was wrong with me?

When I landed, tears finally flowed at the sight of my family. Mom, Daddy, Kirsten and Ruthie had all come to pick me up. We went to dinner and cried and laughed as we shared our favorite anecdotes about Oma. The memorial service was a beautiful celebration of Oma’s life. It was the day before Easter, and the senior pastor at Blessed Redeemer made our resurrection hope the theme of his eulogy.

I couldn’t help but think of Ian. He had celebrated Passover back in Ohio. He’d explained the pagan roots of Easter to me. Were we offending God by celebrating on the wrong day, in the wrong way? Could we even be lost, unsaved because we weren’t worshiping God the right way? Maybe we were just fooling ourselves with this talk of resurrection hope.

All I knew is that I wanted to see my Oma again. Surely someone like her had to be in heaven with Jesus. I prayed God would show me the right way to believe and live so I could get there too.