This week we remembered the anniversaries of Maggie and Abby's births and deaths. As I journeyed through the three days, a brutal triduum, I began to see how deepest grief can take the shape of the paschal mystery. Dying and rising. As the first year after loss ends, I find myself turning toward new directions. I will not be writing only honest grief in this space; there are new callings. So as Lent begins, this feels a fitting end to what the last year has been. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. . . . Birth. It is the beginning of the scar, the longest on my body. The scalpel that sliced through stomach, layers of skin and muscle, to pull two tiny babies into the world. They are too small to cry. But I do, quiet tears streaming down my face. My arms cannot wipe them away, strapped down and stretched out to both sides. This surgery is cruciform; nurses do not tell you that in pre-op. Then again, how could they possibly prepare you? Did anyone … [Read more...] about was it a holy week?
And then from the backseat, you hear a fidgeting restlessness. He begins to speak, and from the second the sentence ends, you feel the air around you change. "In the last chapter of Narnia that we read, they killed Aslan." You grip your hands tighter around the steering wheel. Your knuckles turn pink-white, hard. You reply, breathing evenly. Yes, they did. You know this is not the end. You wait for the next. You can feel questions creeping, circling around the pathways of his brain, only almost-five years old. "That was really bad. The White Witch cut his mane to look like a kitty cat's mane. And all the creatures on the Witch's side made fun of him like he was a little kitty cat." Your fingers ease up on the wheel. Maybe it is not the question you think. Maybe it is not why-did-Aslan-die or why-did-God-let-him-die or why-did-Maggie-and-Abby-die. Maybe you are just talking about the book. Yes, they did cut his mane and make fun of him. That's a hard part of … [Read more...] about still a good story
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 … [Read more...] about still easter
Can you hear it in their voices? Once you cut through the baffled wonder and divide the nagging disbelief and set aside the stuttering astonishment, there it is: relief. He is risen. He is risen? He is risen! It's not a matter of simple punctuation. There are a thousand reactions to surprising news, and the Gospels cover nearly every one. Mary thinks she's talking to the gardener. John and Peter race each other to the tomb. Thomas can't believe his eyes. But by the end of each of their stories, there is always a category shift. The turn to joy. Happiness is often distinguished from joy. One is fleeting; the other is lasting. One is surface; the other is depth. But here's a difference I hadn't noticed until this Easter. Until I nursed the baby in the wee grey hours of Sunday morning, the baby who had slept all night, finally, blessedly, miraculously slept all night after months of terrible waking. Until my only thought as my whole self relaxed to let him feed was relief. And … [Read more...] about joy, meet relief