Easter Sunday has always been one of my favorite days of the year. When I was a kid, it was definitely because I got to wear my new Easter finery. New dress, new shoes, new trench coat! Although, being from the Midwest, more often than not, it was too cold to wear my trench coat so, my new Spring dress had to be covered with my heavy Winter coat. Oh, and don’t forget the snow. Every once in a while there was snow on the ground at Easter. Not to worry, I would wear my boots and just carry my cute shoes along with me to change into once I got to church. I must admit that since I have had children, shopping for just the right Easter outfit has been, well…let’s just say that I don’t know who enjoys it more, my children or me?
As I have grown closer to Christ, the sheer magnitude of what Easter represents – the life and death of Jesus – has been at times overwhelming and most of the time astounding . That someone could love me so much that he was willing to die for me, or more so, that a father, God, could love me so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son, Jesus, for me and my sin is just mind-boggling. What love! Knowing that I could never, ever do anything even remotely close to that myself (thank goodness He doesn’t ask me to) , I am eternally grateful. Obviously, I think about this more than just on Easter but, this just happens to be the time of year that Christians select to observe His death and resurrection. It seems that this time of year is totally appropriate since in His dying, Christ gave us a chance at new life in Him and Spring is the time of year that we see signs of new life after a long Winter. Flowers bloom, birds lay their eggs and the sun comes out of hiding. All signs of new life.
So, with all of this in mind, let me tell you about Easter 2009. By that April my siblings and I knew that our father was in the late stages of Lewy Body Disease (or Lewy Body Dementia) and that he was approaching the end of his life. Lewy Body Disease is the second most common form of dementia following Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, our mother suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and was, for the most part, unaware of what was happening. Now that I think about it, that was probably, in a strange way, a blessing. Therefore, the four of us, along with our spouses, planned to gather for Easter dinner at my home and plan my father’s funeral. Somehow it seemed easier to do while he was still alive. Not easy but, easier. Now, here was one of my favorite days of the year, complete with the ham, potato salad, green beans, etc., and I was really concerned that after that day, I would not feel the same way about it ever again. Ironically, I had picked Easter Sunday not just because of the urgency of the situation but, also, because it is a family holiday and holidays tend to create a warmer, more serene mood. I know that some of you may be heartily disagreeing with me right now that family holidays are ever serene however, and I sincerely mean this, I have 3 of the coolest siblings on the planet. I was never concerned that we would disagree about any of the details.
We did, in fact, meet at my house that Sunday and after dessert was served, we got down to the business of planning. Since we are a quirky lot, there were lots of sweeping declarations like, “Don’t have too much singing! He wouldn’t like that, ” and “It is a funeral, not a home going celebration!” And, there was a lot of laughter. My dad was a funny guy with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor and it certainly didn’t go unappreciated by the 4 of us. We joked about burying him in a gold-colored casket shaped like a Cadillac, which would have been totally out of character, but really funny. And we noted how he would have hated it if the service was longer than an hour. He was concise and to the point. What was really evident that day was how much we all loved and respected him and each other. Believe it or not, the memories that I have of that day have made Easter that much more special to me. He died 3 days later and thankfully, all of the preparations were in place. I don’t know if you can ever really be prepared to lose a loved one but, it helped that we were at least organized. Which was a good thing, especially for me, since my youngest daughter, then 15-months-old, was hospitalized with Rotavirus just days before dad’s funeral. Apparently, I just can’t catch a break.
I miss spending holidays with my siblings and I hope that one day soon we will be able to gather again without it having anything to do with something so serious. However, ever since that Easter Sunday, 2009, I have been even more grateful for God’s grace and gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, for my family who really are some of the greatest people ever and yes, for really darling Spring dresses…just because they are fun.