I wonder how bad it is for me to say that today stinks? As a Christian, this is the day of the year that we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for us and on this day we celebrate His victory over death. Death…the one thing that has power over every one of us. Only, Jesus conquered it!
I’m super thankful that Jesus did that for me…and you. I’m honest enough to say that I am thankful for what He did so that I can have eternal life…BUT, I am also human. This Easter day has been the hardest day I’ve had in a long time. There is not one thing happy or joyful about it to me. Maybe it’s my attitude…maybe it’s stinking thinking…maybe it’s just really hard and I don’t have the strength to find the joy in it right now.
Death brings a whole lot of changes. There is no way to prepare for the changes and there is no way to fully identify all of them at one time. You don’t (and can’t) think about everything that has changed until you reach each new milestone. That is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you can’t process them all at once…a curse because you can’t see them until they have hit you in the head like a freaking rock and you fall flat on your face.
At some point I should have realized that today would be horrendous for me…and took the time to try and process it before it hit me upside the head. Don’t get me wrong, I have dreaded it for weeks. I know how many good memories I have of this day and I have tried to focus on them. That action plan worked pretty good…until it was time to get dressed for church this morning.
Actually, it worked until I opened my eyes and watched my girls find their Easter baskets. (That, contrary to tradition were sitting nicely on the couch). It was deathly quiet as they pulled each item from their baskets. They looked at their stuff, but never smiled. They pulled candy out and turned it over several times before tossing it back into the basket. They didn’t say anything. Nothing. That’s the moment I knew that today was the end of our race. We were all out of strength…and today was going to be just as bad for them as it was going to be for me.
Easter has always been a big deal for us. My parents started it when I was a little girl. Greg and I kept the Easter traditions alive before we had kids and then when the girls came along it just got better and better. We always have to look for our baskets and Easter morning is generally a lot of fun around our house. This morning it was silent and not fun at all.
We all just went through the motions. I asked the girls did they like their stuff, they replied that they did. Then, I told them it was time to get ready for church…so we all got ready. I found myself being ill as a hornet for no reason. I told myself that I needed to get a grip and so I tried harder to just be nice. I don’t love sourpuss faces…and yet all three of us were sporting them with pride this morning. We did smile for two minutes when Aunt Marilyn and Jimbo stopped by to drop off Maggie’s jacket…then it was back to silence.
On the way to church, I stopped by the storage building and pulled out the flower arrangement I wanted to put on his grave today. It was sprinkling rain; the stand wouldn’t fit into my car; and the beeping noise that my open trunk made for five miles almost drove us over the edge. Then, when we got to the cemetery we had to take the old flowers down; put the new flowers up; and take pictures. Can you say, “Forced Smiles”?
Last year we took this picture with Grandma on Easter Sunday at Church…
Those smiles were not forced.
Today, we didn’t take a picture with Grandma at all. She was there though and I’m glad she was for many reasons.
After church, the kids went home with Papa…and I came home by myself. There is no way to hold back tears when you realize that you are spending Easter Sunday completely alone for the first time in your life. The memories of Easter Sundays in the past just kind of took over at that point…and I let them. I’m no good for anyone today and I realize that, so I didn’t participate in any Easter Sunday activities. I just don’t have it in me at the moment.
Mama called…and Bo called. They both talked about everything and nothing…and I listened. I just don’t feel like talking today. They both understood. Their calls did remind me that life still goes on. Everything is not dead…although today it feels that way to me. It’s funny to me that both of them told me to do whatever I needed to do to get through this day and then start again tomorrow. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll start again tomorrow.
Tonight, I’m just gonna sit here and try to be real still.
I don’t have the strength to fight through this pain today. I don’t have what it takes to make it through a family gathering. I just have enough strength to sit here and type. So, that’s what I’ll do.
I find that the more I type the more clarity I gain. I see that today is the first Easter without him. I know holidays are hard. Holidays will be hard from here on out. Mentally, I have to be better prepared for the next one. Today, I have the desire to go participate in the celebrations, but not the strength it takes to actually do it.
When I see those words in black and white, I feel like a runner who has prepared for a race for months. I have put my time in training and building muscle…I finished both of our birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and one of the girls’ plays without him. I should be as ready as I’ll ever be…only I’m not. I’m only halfway through the marathon…mile 13.1…and I’m out of fuel.
I feel like I have let myself down. Maybe if I had trained harder…or been more alert…or drank more water I could have made it to the finish line with the rest of the pack instead of falling flat on my face. I am gassed out and there is no more get up and go left inside of me right now. I’m out of the race.
Here’s what I do know about myself: I will finish a race one day…even if I’m on my hands and knees. I’ll sleep off the fatigue and the pain and I’ll stand back up…tomorrow. I’ll start over and I’ll have the experience of failing to help drive me further along the course when I strap on my tennis shoes in the morning.
Tomorrow…I’ll start training for the next race, but today I’m done. And, that’s ok. I’ve ran 13.1 miles in the Grief Marathon…and that’s more than a lot of folks can say. I’m not a quitter…and I won’t give up without a fight…but I’m smart enough to know that running a half marathon takes a lot of preparation, dedication, and persistence…so I have something inside of me that will push me toward the finish line of the whole marathon one day. Today just wasn’t my day. I didn’t earn the “well you tried” medal. Those don’t exist in the Grief Marathon. You either keep going or you don’t. Today, I didn’t keep going.
So, I get to sit and nurse my sore muscles and aching heart. I get to swim through the river of tears that is threatening to drown me. I get to stay by myself for a while. I get to start over again tomorrow. And, I get to learn a valuable lesson in life: The Grief Marathon never truly ends. Even when I reach the 26.2 mile marker…my race won’t be over.
I have to mentally and physically prepare for a race that will last for the rest of my life. I’m not done until I get to Heaven and I have no clue when that will be. So, you see I just have to keep going. Even though I keep falling down…I can’t give up. I can’t quit and I can’t say time’s up. The mistakes I make in training everyday are ridiculous, but I just have to keep pushing forward. I am determined to finish this race called life and my only goal is to hear God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” when I get there.
In the meantime, I wear four bracelets on my right arm that remind me of several things:
- “FAITH”: means don’t give up and don’t give in. Just have faith that God has this all worked out and know that whatever happens is for my good.
- “My faith is bigger than my fear”: Don’t let the fear of failing stop you. Keep the faith and finish the race.
- “Eternal love”: My Rolondo bracelet given to me by Hunter & Lindsey reminds me that love is eternal. Once you have felt it, it will never go away. God’s love is also eternal. Hold on to love always.
- “Arrow”: Given to me by Tabatha, reminds me to stay focused. I have a path to follow and a guide to get there…I’m not wondering around lost. I am on a mission and I will get there…one day.
Here’s to the bad days y’all. They can’t all be good…and they can’t all be sunny. There has to be a little of both. Today has been rough, but I can see the sun (literally) pushing through the clouds. Tomorrow will be better and I can (will) try again.