Looking for the Easter Bunny
Death and Rebirth on Grief Avenue.
Easter 2015. My husband had been dead less than a year.
Your faithful correspondent was as slow as jello on a broken escalator. Sticky slow. Running on the moon kind of slow. Everyone - is - going - around - you - slow. That I was moving at all was a bit of a miracle, but I couldn’t seem to go faster than my thoughts, all of which were dull and mired in emotional mud.
I was sitting at the chiropractor, reading YES magazine, waiting my turn, when I met a young woman who had brought her cat with her. She'd picked up the cat at the vet, then came to the chiropractor for herself.
“Is your cat okay?” I asked, because I ask those things. You probably do too.
It was fine, she said. The cat had found and eaten an antidepressant and had to spend a night at the vet for observation to make sure she wasn't poisoned or going to have seizures. I nodded in complete understanding.
I've picked up a drug or two off the floor in my time and popped it my mouth. I get you, cat.
The young woman was giving details about her pet, then suddenly blurted out, "My husband died."
I shifted my attention from the cat to her. I reached over and gently touched her sleeve.
"Mine too." I said.
A woman sitting near us who was reading looked up, "I lost my 16-year-old daughter two years ago," she said softly. We all looked at each other with wide eyes, then we started to talk. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer.
At that point, I'd finally just experienced a few really good days in a row. Blissful, beautiful, bright days and I kid you not - I enjoyed every single moment of those days. When a day is good, it's good all over. It's finger-licking good. It's good to the bone.
But that particular morning I had already started to slide out of "good" territory into a soup made of tears and I was struggling.
Going to the chiropractor was one way of taking care of myself, my aching body, my crippled emotions. Some days if you can only do one beneficial thing for yourself, you do that and just that. Self-care is not always sexy, but it’s not optional.
We talked about our departed loved ones and I showed the woman who lost her daughter two photos of John when we discovered they worked in similar fields. She looked at his pictures for a long time.
"He has really good energy," she said.
"Yes," I said. I smiled. I was amazed that someone who never knew him said the exact same thing from looking at a photo that so many people said when they met him in the flesh.
So here's where spacey, slow Therra got all caught up with current events. At the grocery store on the way home I suddenly realized that Sunday was Easter and it was my first Easter without John. I felt a sudden, painful flash of anger because it snuck up on me without me realizing it was a "first."
I'd gotten through so many firsts in the previous nine months - some by the skin of my teeth - and I was in huge, tiptoe-through-the-tulips relief over surviving those “firsts.” First birthday. Thanksgiving. Anniversary. All I had to do now, I figured, was coast to the "one year" mark.
But I'd forgotten about Easter.
We always celebrated Easter. Being Catholic, sometimes we attended mass but even if we didn't we always went to our favorite church: Nature. We usually had a picnic outdoors so we could watch the world regenerate before our eyes.
There are many miracles this time of year no matter what your beliefs are.
Just look around.
One of our fave Easter meals was when we picnicked on the large, flat rocks of Lake Travis outside Austin, having just seen Leonard Cohen in concert for the first time a few days before. Seeing the world's second most important Jew and then celebrating the resurrection of the first is a potent Spring double-whammy. Especially if you are in bare feet. Especially if you have potato salad.
And deep in the heart of Texas, of all places. There's surely a punchline in there somewhere.
Happy Easter, everyone. Keep going. Spring always comes, flowers always bloom, rebirth always happens, whether you are ready or not.
Because that’s what the universe does. And you will, too.