I was awakened earlier than I would have wanted on Easter morning - probably around 6:30. I heard the little pitter patter of feet running into our family room, which is just on the other side of the wall that our bed is on. I love this pitter patter. On Christmas, I generally set my alarm for very early, and sit in the dark by the lights of the Christmas tree, and wait for them to wake up, so I can record them and their excitement on camera, so that I can hold on to it forever.
But, on Easter, I let them wake up first. I hear them coming, and, upon waking, I am delighted at their excitement. I listen to their hushed voices, savoring the pure joy of happiness, yet unencumbered by the heaviness that inevitably will come in life. Inexplicably, the little ones will not start without their big sister. When my oldest daughter wakes first, she too, will go and get them before they start. I love this, want this, but not fully understanding the bond of siblings, a yearning I will have all the days of my life. So when I hear, “Let’s get Chloe,” and hear them rushing out, I quickly contemplate trying to sleep for the thirty seconds more it will take for them to be back, I try to pull myself out of the grog of heavy sleep, so I can listen to their voices, for a few sacred moments, in sync, on a team, no fighting or bantering.
Steve gets up and goes in there with them and I lay in bed enjoying the peace. I have had a heavy heart lately, and we have had a hard few weeks. So many thoughts of Easter (that will have to be addressed at a later time). No squabbles yet, so I pick up a book that I have been reading, Devotion, a spiritual memoir of sorts, and try to get a golden nugget to hold on to for the day.
The egg hunt is delayed for as long as possible, but they are too excited. I get up and head out with my camera, leaving my heart inside, as it is too heavy to carry today.
By 8:30, they are done, Steve is on the couch asleep in front of the TV yet again, and I am looking at the next four hours with a mix of panic, dread, sadness, lonliness, and, worst of all, hopelessness. I am saving the reasons for all of this for another day. I want to bolt out of my house to a coffee shop, as I do many weekend mornings now, but the thought of that being my Easter morning paralyzes me. I scan through Easters past. I think of all the families and all the fun they will have today. I weigh the fear of going to a coffee shop alone on Easter, contrasted not only by the high profile holiday , but also my kids being home, unattended, playing video games and watching TV. This scene stabs me, but I know I am empty and have nothing to give them. I say a quick prayer (to whom? ) that they not be too scarred by this, and ask for strength to pull myself back together, so that I can be the Mother I so desperately want to be. I brace for impact for what my husband will say when I say I am leaving for the morning. Holidays and traditions are very important to him, and as he is judging himself for being so sick, he will also judge me for not carrying on while he physically can not.
This bracing for his reaction turns out to have been unnecessary. He knows. We are both drowning and each, singularly and alone, know that to save our ship, we have to do whatever it takes to save ourselves. He offers, through his cough and pounding headache, “We could all go for a walk. Change it up.” I’m sorry, I can’t. Neither of us has the energy to rally the children. I know this. “Maybe if we have time when you get back.”
“Sure,” I say, knowing I don’t mean it. But this offering, along with the freedom to go, becomes a lifeline for the day. He is trying. I am trying. I go through the drive through for coffee, and go on a long drive. I half listen to Krista Tippets On Being show, and my thoughts are racing, tears flowing. More so, not because of what is going on, but for the loss of this Easter for our family.
A few years ago, a friend of mine found out she had breast cancer. She had to have a double masectomy as soon as possible. The surgeons next opening was on Christmas Eve. It was her daughter’s first Christmas. When I went to visit her in the hospital on Christmas Eve, she told me of dropping her daughters off with family, and kissing them goodbye , saying, “Merry Christmas.” She explained that she sacrificed this Christmas with them, so she could take care of herself, so she could have many Christmases to come.
So, I grasped on to the memory of my friends’ comments about Christmas Eve years ago, and my thoughts and feelings and tears flow freely without judgement. I will take care of myself, today and in the future, so that I may once again enjoy my family as I so desperately want to.
This will be the most honest expression of some of my sadness and struggles that I have put out for others to read to date. I like to cover these struggles up for a multitude of reasons. Vulnerability is one reason. Another is that these musings are not uplifting or validating and seemingly serve no purpose, for the reader or the writer. It is not focusing on the good, adjusting the attitude, which are the platitudes I often use to move through pain.
I will post this as a leap of faith. Maybe, just maybe, by recognizing the feelings and identifying them, the act of putting it out there will help to release them, and perhaps move through them. Since no one reads this, I know it is just an exercise for me. But, when others have done it, like Lindsey in A Design so Vast, it has helped relieve the pressure of my ballooning hopelessness, and puts me back in the company of real humans, living real lives, experiencing the not so good, along with the good.