I gave this speech in honor of my grandmother, Darlene Kay Haughn (December 22, 1942 – December 5, 2020).
There is no one I loved picking up from the airport more than Mema. Every time she flew to Colorado, we got to the airport early. We parked, walked, waited. We watched as arriving passengers levitated into sight, their feet upon the escalator and eyes upon the crowd. Most of all, we drove Dad crazy.
“Is that Mema?” we asked.
“No, that’s not her,” he replied.
“What about that person?”
“I don’t think so, guys. She hasn’t even landed yet.”
“Well, when is she coming?”
Then she would come. We would run across the marble, sliding into her. Her hug always caught us. Smiles and grandmotherly smells enveloped us. All stuck together, she would say, “Oh, my babies. My babies.”
Mema never met someone who wasn’t her baby because, for her, no one was unlovable, and everyone had needs that she wanted to meet. The Haughn family knows no stranger because of Mema. We may not call everyone “hon–ay,” but we try to treat them as if we do — just like she always did.
I hate that she is gone. It reminds me of something else she used to say whenever we baked. Creamy filling prepared, she would dip the tip of her finger into it. “Well, I don’t like that,” she would say, lips pursed. I’d laugh. Always she would add, “But it’ll have to do.”
We don’t like this — death. We ache from somewhere within us that we didn’t know existed. We question aspects of life that, before, we had never even touched with a stick. We wonder if the death of those we love most will “have to do.”
For those whom God has saved, the answer is no. I believe, as Mema and I used to whisper about in the kitchen hours before anyone else would awake, that one day death will no longer “have to do.” Christ lived then gave his perfect life that we might enjoy an eternity in which we have only to remember, rather than mourn, death. So for now, death will do — because we know his time is short and because we know eternity is long, and happy.
While I was writing this, I began to cry over the thought of never picking Mema up from the airport again. Of never asking Dad, “When is she coming?” Then it occurred to me that Mema is coming back. For Christ is coming back. Jesus once said to a woman, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
Mema believed this. That’s why, though we mourn her absence now, her babies can have hope. Because of Christ, this grave is not her final stop. She is coming back with Jesus.