It is still Easter. Good God.
It is a dragging long Easter this year. Two more weeks still to go before we can breathe back into ordinary time. How long do I have to try to rejoice?
Our family has done officially zero of our usual Easter season practices. The beloved Tomie de Paola sticker calendar is shoved in a corner, all stickers unstuck. Repeat rounds of eggs went un-dyed. I threw away the candy and the kids didn’t notice.
Part of me believes that Easter could bring us extra hope this year. We got to glimpse pure light in the midst of darkness, resurrection in the middle of sorrow. We will never get closer.
But truth be told, my heart does not want to rejoice. It wants to climb back into the tomb and push back through Good Friday and come out on the other side of still-Lent.
Because back there we did not have dead children. And our future still looked familiar.
. . .
On Easter Sunday morning, Maggie and Abby had been gone for exactly one month. Franco and I stood up in front of our parish and told their story again. I looked up at the faces listening to us speak, and I thought this is wonderful and this is horrible, all at once.
The same dichotomy yanks at my heart every day. We get death certificates in the mailbox, and we get cards from friends who know we still need to hear their names. We help raise thousands of dollars for other mothers and babies in their honor, and we can’t stand to see other people’s babies.
He digs a new garden in their memory and I tell him it’s going to be beautiful and we agree that we still hate that we are doing it. I start writing their story and he tells me it will change people’s lives and we agree that we still wish there were no great story to share.
We don’t have to reconcile any of the tensions we are feeling. This is not the time for happy endings or pretty bows. But the weight of so many at once is too much. I still wake up every morning and have to blink my way back into the world where this is real.
I don’t know how we go on. I just know that we go on.
. . .
Easter changed everything. I already believed that. But now Easter is changing again.
In this space of grief, we are learning truths about the tomb that I never wanted to learn.
That all the disciples’ joy at the resurrection came from loss. The teacher and friend they loved would never be the same. They had to let go of the Jesus they knew to embrace the Christ who was.
We had to let go of what we loved. Now we are picking up what matters most. Now we are trying to figure out how to rebuild new life around it.
If it were not for the truth that everything we have lived is exactly what resurrection means, I would scream that it is all too much.
. . .
A month into Easter, two weeks still to go, there is only one trace left at our house.
At every meal we sing Alleluia after we give thanks. Most of the time I don’t even want to hear it. But we all sing it. Kids warbling off-key, toddler joining in with babbles.
Even when I don’t want to, I sing it. I listen to the ones I love sing it. I know we need to sing it.
The only way that Alleluia becomes the shape of our hearts again is by singing.
Even when we want to scream. Even in the dark.