Five Minute Friday: Reflect


Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Reflect. 

19 years ago yesterday, my Grandma died.

I still remember the day well.

After school, my parents drove me to Midway, where I flew to St. Louis to spend the weekend at my aunt's, helping her decorate for Christmas.

That night, she picked me up from the St. Louis airport and asked me how Grandma was doing. The question was expected since four months earlier, Grandma had been diagnosed with cancer. Shortly thereafter, she entered hospice care and moved into our house.

I remember telling my aunt how odd it was that the night before, Mom made a point of telling me, “Make sure you say good-bye to your Grandma before you go to bed.” Stranger still, when I went to do just that, my Grandma asked me repeatedly, “You're going away this weekend, right?”

Hours later, we arrived at my aunt's house and I called home to tell my parents I'd arrived safely. My mom's frantic response suggested something was terribly wrong.

Minutes or maybe hours later (at this point, I'm not sure which), Mom called to tell us Grandma died.

We buried her a few days later, on December 13, the date that should have been her birthday.

Grandma's death was my first up-close encounter with death. To this day, I believe Grandma knew her death was imminent but that by a sheer force of will, she hung on until she knew I wouldn't be there to witness it, perhaps in an effort to protect my 14-year old self from witnessing death in my own house.

Christmas Tree & Samson

Nearly twenty years later, what I know about that first experience with death is that it shapes you, mysteriously and profoundly. Though I remember Grandma often throughout the year, as soon as my own Christmas tree goes up, I find myself reflecting on her life and legacy more than usual.

I remember my mom's decision to decorate early that fateful year. I remember Grandma sitting on the couch in those last weeks of her life, intently staring at the tree lights for hours on end. And I remember the love she showed for me – in life and in death.


Aunt Pat

Born on Dec 13, married on Dec 13 & buried on Dec 13. She said it was so peaceful sitting on that couch looking at the tree. She was at peace with dying & I do believe that you're right about having some control over when you can pass over or make the transition. She loved you so very much & would do anything to protect you. Thank you for remembering her, Jen, as you would, of course, but for sharing, also. Love you

Posted by Aunt Pat, almost 10 years ago

Jacque Watkins

Just so beautiful Jen, your memory and the grace with which you've not only grieved, but are giving us a glimpse into your Grandma's life. Thank you for that gift.

Posted by Jacque Watkins, almost 10 years ago

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

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