This is my family’s first Christmas season without our beautiful Grandma.
As I’ve shared with my you, my readers, she passed away in August after being rushed home from a family vacation. Over the last few months, I’ve thought back on the week leading up to her passing many times, wanting to replay all the final memories we shared.
One of those memories is our last lunch together – and it wasn’t until weeks after her funeral that I realized the true significance of that meal. Of course at the time, I never would have guessed that this would be our last lunch together. If someone had told me then, I would not have believed that in just one short week, Grandma would be gone.
My mom, my aunt, my grandma, Papanonno (grandpa), and I decided not to join the rest of the family for a day at the beach. Instead, we parked ourselves at a nice hotel with a beautiful restaurant overlooking the harbor.
My aunt offered Grandma the seat with the best view of the harbor. My mom sat sandwiched between her and my grandpa, while we faced them.
The first restaurant we’d gone to was closed, so this was take 2. We were the only ones there for a bit. I was delighted because I assumed that meant we’d get our food quickly.
For an appetizer, we shared an order of parmesan French fries – and I can hardly type this without salivating!
Soon another family arrived, stirring a bit of disappointment in me. I was enjoying having this little room at the restaurant to ourselves.
And then I started to grow impatient. Where was our food? Thirty minutes had surely passed at this point and now more families and couples were sitting down. And then, the act that we all find unjust in a restaurant – a family that had arrived after us and had ordered after us got their food before us!
My aunt asked the waiter if the food would be here soon. He assured us that it would. As far as I could tell, I was the only one at the table getting antsy waiting for our meal. For no good reason, I wanted this lunch to be efficient. I had nothing to get back to and nowhere to be, but I was a little bit annoyed that these later arrivals were eating before us!
This isn’t anything new. I’ve always tried to pack as much into a day as possible. I seek justice, even in small matters. This was textbook Victoria: an event moves more slowly and unfairly than it should and I get frustrated.
I’m sad that I can hardly remember what we spoke about because I was too busy wondering when our food would arrive. You’d think that I was famished!
Finally, our food arrived. I don’t remember what I ate, but I do know both Grandma and my aunt had the fish stew. We finished our lunch to little fanfare and returned to our lodging. We had no idea what the next few days would bring.
It was Jesus
But this post isn’t about what happened in those next few days. I’ve already chronicled the difficulty and privilege of our family being beside our Grandma in her dying days. Weeks after the funeral, I held onto that lunch memory as sacred. It was a time where we didn’t know what was coming.
Jesus, of course, knew that it would be our last lunch together. And I believe He slowed it down so that we could all savor the time together. I believe Jesus orchestrated it so that our food would take longer to serve and we could therefore bask in each other’s company this one last time.
Had I known it would be the last lunch, I would’ve stretched it out. I would’ve welcomed the delay in the food arriving. I wouldn’t have cared that other families got their food before we did. I would’ve tried to soak every minute up together.
But I didn’t know that. God knows I can be impatient. He was giving me a gift in that moment and I didn’t see it. I chose to stay in my impatience. All along, I wanted to move this lunch along and now I’d love to just go back in time and treasure that meal with Grandma. The truth is, most of us will never know when we’re having our last lunch with someone we love.
But we have a choice. I know that I can choose to be frustrated if something is taking “forever” or I can choose to enjoy the extra time I get with the people I love.
Our last lunch was a long one. So with this new year ahead of me, I want to savor the simple and slow down, stretch out my meals and linger longer. Here’s to all the lunches with the people we love! Bon appetit!