Things get a bit confusing this time of year with our memories. I’ve mentioned before that our time with our daughter is tied to the church year. Since Easter is a movable feast, the dates don’t always match up to when events occurred. Holy week is always a tough one, because she got sick on the Tuesday of Holy Week. The date was April 19th, but it was the Tuesday in between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. By the time Good Friday rolled around, she was in the ICU on a ventilator, had had a spinal tap, and my parents were in town. My dad missed leading worship during the last Easter of his final full-time ministry before retiring. My husband didn’t end up leading worship that Easter either. To be honest, I have no idea who filled in at our church, but we had some retired pastors as members who I assume did it.
So back to that week six years ago. I was home alone, without a car. We had two cars then, but one was in the shop and Travis was at a training event. She just started screaming… and wouldn’t stop. Finally my husband got away from his meeting and took us to the doctor. They sent us for blood work. Nothing. We came home and rested that night, and the next day, checking her temperature to see if she spiked a fever. By Wednesday night she did, and we went to the ER… and life was never the same.
I can’t remember a time when my life wasn’t set to the rhythm of the church year. When I was a kid, it was the interplay of church year and school year, with both having a “break” of sorts during the summer months. The slow build of Lent and the busy schedule of Holy Week worship were mercifully accompanied by a couple of days off from school. Following Easter was the slowing of the school year and moving into Pentecost season at church, where the colors on the altar stayed green for months on end and we tended our garden and went to swimming lessons and camp and VBS and spent days outside in the sun growing ourselves.
These cycles were less meaningful to me as an adult until we went through losing our children. We brought home Jonah’s ashes during Holy Week, too. And six years ago my Good Friday vigil mirrored that of Mary. For the past fourteen years, Good Friday has been much more meaningful to me. I often sit in the quiet, dark sanctuary after everyone else is gone, talking to my Father in heaven who knows my pain so well. I imagine this year will be the same.
And while Easter six years ago didn’t exactly change the trajectory of our journey with Samantha, the Easter from over 2,000 years ago very much did. I know I will see my children again. I know there is hope! That hope is the reason I can get up each morning and keep moving, even when I feel the sorrow closing around my heart.
Knowing how busy this week gets, I’m not sure I’ll have time to write again before Easter, so I pray all of you are blessed in your celebrations with family and friends.