Sunday, March 31, 2013

The empty tomb

I spent Easter with my husband and kids, my mom and dad, my uncle, my cousin, and his new girlfriend.  :) We then returned to the gravesite for the first time since the burial; it's covered with some nice grass seed now.  Put up a couple of little angel statues, but I'm man I'm far from keeping up with these new neighbors.  Huge palm crosses, tons of plants and pinwheels, rows of lollipops, Easter eggs on sticks, oh yeah and solar-powered lights and toys.  My friends, the crazy "competition" about "who is the best mom" continues beyond death. :) Though in this case, I think the mothers of section 29 at St. Ann's, at the newest section of "Babyland," definitely have a soft spot for each other. I threw some extra petals on nearby graves. I'm tempted to leave my number on a business cards at nearby spots, or my Facebook contact info, just something to connect with those who mourn beside me.
It's been the most deeply meaningful Easter I've ever had, by a long shot. I've never had a grave I thought of daily before. I never understood in such a personal way how amazing the Resurrection story was before: that a tomb that was occupied is empty, and the person was alive.  I can now get the piercing joy of that thought.
(That's the tomb of the Lord in Israel, above.)  I have been carried by all your prayers, so that the great sadness is still mingled with great hope and joy. I am so grateful.
I am both eager to turn the calendar page tomorrow, and terribly sad to do so.  Perpetua was alive and with me this month; she will not be in April.  But I am being gently drawn away from the past, even now. I need to love her and move on, into the next beautiful full month of spring, while knowing part of me will always stay in March, 2013.
It is Easter, and I took time today by the grave to think of the strange moments of beauty in this terrible journey. The moments where death and sorrow touched eternal joy:
  • Seeing the beautiful ultrasound one last time, my baby so perfectly formed even in that terrible stillness.
  • My wonderful nurse Catherine J, who told me everything my panicked mind needed to hear: that I was doing nothing to hurt my baby.  Assured me that I had done my job, which was to carry Perpetua her entire short life.  That now I just needed to put her to rest.
  • Dan taking my hand after the surgery, while I was still dressed in a faded, blood-stained hospital gown, and asking me to marry him again when he gave me back my diamond. He then gravely and grandly recited that he was "hereby endowing me with all his considerable earthly goods, cattle, lands, etc." and I managed my first real smile since I found out.
  • Hearing on the phone--while alone at my dining room table--from the funeral director, that I had a little girl.  Chuckling because, well, I have girls!
  • Having to quickly come up with a name for girl number five, both of us rushing so it could be put on her coffin plaque.  Finding one quickly that felt exactly right.
  • Having my daughters come up with an awesomely cute nickname for her: "Pepper."
  • Finally, finally, finally being able to see her, shower her with love, and say goodbye.  Being able to walk away peacefully, knowing it was time to do so.
  • Having gorgeous, warm, sunny weather at last for the funeral and burial. Seeing my first two butterflies of the season flying right past my face. Finding tiny white flowers already in bloom at her open grave. Hearing so many birds after the sparrow sermon given for her.
  • Having my girls here around me.  And also having them away from me, :) being cared for by wonderful friends so I could be alone with my thoughts of those in heaven.
  • Deeply experiencing God's love through the extremely kind attentions of all of you.  Stumbling home in tears from some morbid chore to see a meal and flowers on my porch, beautiful cards in the mailbox, offers for babysitting on my phone.
I hope you've all had beautiful Easters with your families. I truly have, with both my earthly and heavenly ones.
I know tomorrow, the moment I need it, I will find the courage I don't have right now: to turn from this tumultuous but so precious March to an emptier but more peaceful April. One day at a time...
"O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting? 
Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:55,57

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