In early March 2015 I drove from Nashville to the Chicago suburbs to see my Grandmother. She was on her deathbed but hadn’t acknowledged these were her last days. I pulled into the parking lot late that night, entered the medical facility, and approached her room quietly.

Cancer was ravaging her body. Her hair was gone, she had trouble hearing, and she wasn’t interested in food. But when I walked into her room that night her eyes filled with joy and delight. She smiled at me like only a grandmother could and she was still full of jokes, laughter and strong opinions. As my uncle showed her old photos, it jogged her memory and she told us stories until she was tired.

Later that night she looked me in the eyes and said, “Pray for me, I’m dying.”

“I know, Grandma. I will and I love you.”

Six days later she passed away. I cried a lot those weeks and again more recently as I listened to the 20 minutes of audio I recorded at her side. That weekend she taught me the greatest gift you can give someone you love is to be next to them, even when you can’t comprehend their pain and agony.

I love you, Grandma.