This is my grandparents on their honeymoon, over seventy years ago. Five kids, eleven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grand kids later, they are in the late twilight of their life together. The sun is setting. My grandmother is dying.
This is the cycle of life, yes, but it it also marks the end of an era. My grandmother is the Materfamilia. My grandparents are the epicenter of our family, the sun of our family's universe, the heart of our family body. All family energy runs through them: the hurt, the love, the pain, the forgiveness, the growth, the gain, the loss -- everything. They have brought our large, extended family together for decades. They bear witness to every family event, no matter the magnitude. They welcome our friends and those adopted by love as members of the family. They are irreplaceable. A torch of this sort cannot be passed.
My grandmother is glorious and Godly and her sunset, like her life, is awe-inspiring. When the last light twinkles from her spirited eyes, it will not be gone forever. It will live on inside each of her kin, and in all those she has welcomed and loved with her warm embrace into the family. I know this, yet tonight I find myself unable to sleep as I wander my memories with my cherished grandparents -- all the roads we have traveled, all the ways both small and large that they have impacted my life. I send a warm blanket of love across the miles in which to wrap them both as they cross this new landscape the same way they have crossed all others -- together. As I try to find a path to sleep, I pray that I may see them one last time, so I may put my head on my grandmother's chest, listen to the heartbeat of the family, and be thankful.