My Nana died May 18th, 2005. Just two days after Tony’s birthday. She had fought cancer once already and was in remission when the cancer came back. The second time it came back was in her brain. She had taken chemo again but the cancer did not go away this time. The doctors said to call in hospice.
I was working in Huntsville and I drove from Huntsville to Crosston everyday after work. An hour and a half drive. For the first 2 weeks, Nana was coherent and was able to walk around and take care of herself with little help. We all knew, as well as Nana, that it would get worse soon. Much worse. Knowing that I had very little time to spend with my Nana, I decided that I wanted to get some “life” advice from her. Something that she had learned about life and wanted to pass down to her grandchild. Momma and I went into her bedroom one day and Momma said, “Nana, Lynn wants to get some advice from you about life”. Nana looked at me and said, “Come sit down next to me Lynn”. I did as she asked. What she said to me next would be something that I have never forgotten. Nana said, “As long as you have a breath, you have a purpose”.
Something so simple yet so true.
A week or so after that, Nana slipped into a coma. She laid in the bed day after day. Hospice said that she could still hear us. We would go into her room through out the day and talk to Nana. Hold her hand. Play some of her favorite songs.
The day came that I got a call at work and was told that Nana was about to die.
Pappa and I got in the vehicle and rushed down to Crosston. We made it in one hour. The whole community was there. I did not recognize half the people. Everyone was there so Nana would not have to leave this earth alone.
I rushed into Nana’s room and momma said, “Nana, Lynn and Pappa are here now”. I grabbed her hand and kissed her on the forehead and said, “I love you Nana”. Pawpaw came in the room and asked the family to gather around Nana.
I was at her feet. He asked that we all hold hands. What would happen next is something that I will never forget. Pawpaw, positioned at Nana’s head, started praying to God. He prayed the most sincere prayer I have ever heard. He thanked God for giving him Nana. He thanked God for the life he had with her. Tears streaming down his face as he prayed. I know this because I couldn’t close my eyes for the prayer. I was fixed on Nana’s face. Watching her take a small breath in and exhale that small breath out. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more breath Nana”. When she exhaled that breath, I would say to myself again, “Just one more breath Nana”. I was being stubborn and my flesh did not want Nana to die. “Just one more breath Nana” I kept saying. Pawpaw praying so hard that sweat was forming on his forehead. Tears were streaming down his face.
Then Pawpaw said it, “God, I commit Nana into your hands now”. Nana took in a shallow breath and exhaled it. She did not take in another breath. That was her last. I immediately remembered what Nana had told me. “As long as you have a breath, you have a purpose”. Nana had finished her purpose on this earth. She was now in the hands of the Lord.
We each kissed her. Someone put a CD into the radio and started playing “I can only imagine”. It was one of Nana’s favorite songs. It was also played at her funeral.
Little did I know that our family was about to go through some tough trials. Everyone would go their own way for things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things that we used to do at Nana’s were now done some place else.
Tony would soon die 5 years later and 5 years after that, Carson would die.
Our family has not been the same since Nana died.
I always remember though, “As long as I have a breath, I have a purpose”.
I love you Nana and I will see you again one day in Heaven.