Love you most, can't say it back

^^^ Grandma and Bald Baby Chris ^^^

Chris’ grandma died in her sleep last night. She was more than a grandmother to him; she was his godmother as well. What a woman to have praying for your soul every day. And now we lift up the prayer that she led at every meal. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and all the souls of the faithfully departed, rest in peace. Amen.

I remember Chris first telling me about his grandma with a clear reverence that I’ve come to know is how everyone spoke of her. Mrs. Harrington, Grandma, Mom, or simply Anne as Grandpa called her, however you knew her, you knew she was a living saint. She told me she loved me the first time we met. I mention that not to say that I am a great person. On the contrary, I mention it to show her greatness; she knew how to love. 

Grandma had a quiet goodness about her, and I know that that exact goodness incredibly influenced my mother-in-law to come to the Catholic faith. Chris and I know of two distinct stories when she lost her cool and one story involves her merely raising her typical angel voice and the other involves her being pregnant in a van with rambunctious boys so I don’t even know if either of those count. She birthed seven fiery children in eight years followed by a caboose years later while navigating many, many moves around the country.  Whenever I would laud her of that great feat and press her about how she did it, she would softly say with all her heart, “Oh, they were all sooooo good.” Now, I feel as though I can say this without repercussions because I am a Harrington now and Harringtons display love through teasing, but while she certainly had great kids, I venture to say they managed to get into their fair share of trouble. She was soooo good. Her patience and forgiveness made the ship sail smoothly, and they loved and do love her for it. 

There are so many stories of regret right now. We didn’t call over the weekend to wish her a happy Easter. Yesterday I had forgotten to show Chris the card that had arrived from her thanking us for visiting last month. Conor had a fever when we left so she couldn’t kiss him goodbye. I had almost pressed, “Submit order,” on this photo of Ryan sleeping in her arms last summer with the intention of sending it to her. I just got an email the other day announcing, “You’re almost there! You forgot something in your cart!” Grandma would have loved to have a photo of her holding her first great grandchild all tuckered out from a day in the pool. “Isn’t that wonderful,” I can hear her declaring. 

It might seem antithetical to be called to mourn in the Easter season of abundant joy, but really, it is quite fitting that she passed during Eastertide. We can truly rejoice in Christ’s defeat of death. We can find comfort that Christ removed the sting from death. We can smile at the open doors for Grandma made so by Christ’s sacrifice. 

Grandma crafted a game she would play with her youngest that continued on through the grandchildren. At certain times during the day, you had to race to say, “Love you most, can’t say it back!” Obviously, if you didn’t say it first then you lost that round since you couldn’t say it back. That was a warm welcome hug of inclusion in the family when Grandma even played it with me, a mere girlfriend. What a fanfare to have. Buckets of grandchildren shouting, “Love you most, can’t say it back!” 

Chris and I have had our eldest daughter’s middle name picked out since we were dating. Maybe this is it. Maybe this one is our chance to finally honor Anne Harrington. 

Love you most, Grandma. Can’t say it back. But we wish you could, just one last time.