By Jess Holland
My grandma’s church smelled like mothballs and Elmer’s glue. The pews were an orangey-red with huge buttons on the seats. Going to church with Grandma meant it was Easter, and I loved it every year. She passed away, but those memories with her are still so strong for me. Grandma’s church didn’t use instruments, so one person would stand up front with a pitch pipe. As soon as he blew out that starter note, everyone jumped in with abandon.
It’s funny how hearing a song can evoke such strong memories. When I hear I’ll Fly Away by Albert E. Brumley, I can close my eyes, and I’m right next to Grandma again. We’d snuggle up, sharing a hymnal (that’s like a big book of songs) and belt our hearts out:
Some glad morning when this life is o’er
I’ll fly away
My grandma was as sassy as they come. Her nickname was Tommy (short for tomboy), but she loved pink more than anyone I knew. She even used pink Titleist golf balls. She loved fiercely. Grandma never missed one dance recital or concert—and she’d always end every conversation reminding me she loved me “whole bunches.”
Her life was marked by significant loss. Her husband died when my dad was 14. She raised him and his brother alone. She watched her siblings pass away, her stepson, and eventually my grandpa. As much as she missed them, she’d always tell stories of fun they’d had. By God’s grace, she wasn’t a bitter person for losing those she loved.
When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
My entire family surrounded my grandma as she passed away. It was beautiful and crushing as we watched her take her last breath. I remember walking out of the hospital and just staring at the sky for a while trying to process what happened. I didn’t realize what loss felt like until that moment. She was one of the people I loved most, and she was gone.
I think it was at her funeral that I realized how much hope there is for believers in Jesus. It’s painful to be separated—the hole she left will never be filled. But I know that it’s just for now. Jesus loves us so much He couldn’t bear to be separated from us. For believers, we have the gift of knowing we’ll spend eternity together. I know I’ll see her again. And that’s gonna be a pretty incredible day.
Oh, how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
Maybe you’ve just gotten some scary news about a loved one. Maybe you just lost someone and you can’t imagine feeling whole again. Let Jesus surround you in the hope that the pain isn’t forever. The truth is that as believers, we’ll get to spend forever together. We have hope—the greatest hope—in Jesus.
… He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” Revelation 21:3-5 MSG
I’ll Fly Away lyrics are copyright and property of Albert E. Brumley and Sons. Lyrics are cited for educational purposes and personal use only.