I wrote this piece a little over a month ago after the passing of my grandmother. I was able to travel home for a week to say goodbye and be with family during the difficult time. Immediately after I returned from my trip home to immediately go to the Santa Fe Presbytery meeting, where we had been asked to share stories about becoming a YAV. At the time, my perspective of this year was greatly influenced by the loss of my grandmother and my first close encounter with death, but this also provided a new perspective on the significance of this chapter of my life.
As someone who normally always has something to say it was awkward, uncomfortable for me to sit there speechless next to her quivering shell. I was huddling next to the embers of a once raging fire—the glow of life was still there, but the warmth and passion of the dancing flames had long left. As I stroked the wisps of thin, white, sweat drenched hair covering my grandmother’s temple I thought about the life she had lived—the joys, the struggles, the sacrifices—and I wondered what my story would contain at its close.
Sitting there with her I thought about the privileges she had been denied having grown up on a struggling Wyoming farm during the depression era. She grew up in a home where there was a lack of material items, and as one of eight children, the competition for her parent’s limited free time and tried affections was what left her with a harsher perspective of the world than the one that I have been allotted. Despite this she was still able to and did love greatly and widely. While she herself was unable to finish putting herself through college as she was in the hospital for appendicitis and missed a term—she ensured that all three of her daughters had college educations.
I’m telling you all of this because this is the perspective through which I am currently interpreting my life and my YAV experience. I am an individual of great privilege. To have been born into an affluent, loving family, to have received a college education, to be able to choose a YAV experience—are all great privileges that I have been given, in part because of the sacrifices my grandmother made. I feel as though it is only right and just to use this privilege to give back.
It was not until I was confronting death through my grandmother that the reality of our time on earth being limited really began to set in and I have begun to ask: What life do I hope to live? What does God desire my legacy to be? What sacrifices could I be making for the benefit of others? Those are the questions that have led me here and that I will continue to hold in this next year.