Easter Just Isn’t the Same Any More

IMG_6927Easter just isn’t the same any more, not since Jason died.

Growing up in the home of a pastor, we always celebrated Easter in a special way. New dresses, new shoes, special radio program prepared by the “Singing Knudson’s,” special music and message for church service. We, of course, did none of the Easter bunny stuff at all. It was all about celebrating the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

1988 Easter  36.jpgWe continued the traditions after Joe and I got married and our kids were born. I bought or sewed new clothes for the kids. I made a new dress for myself. I got up really early on Easter Sunday morning and put together the kids’ Easter baskets, filling them with things I had been secretly collecting for weeks. I put the baskets in front of their bedroom doors to find when they first woke up. After breakfast, off we went to church, bright and early on Easter Sunday morning, to celebrate our risen Savior. We went out to lunch after the service, clothed in our Sunday finest. We had Easter egg hunts, either in the park or at our house, with Joe hiding the eggs over and over again for the kids to find. One year, my mom came to visit us for Easter. It was so much fun. Easter was full of fun and joy.

After Jason died, it seemed as though we tried to carry on with the way things had been. We tried to be “normal,” like we used to be. When your world shatters and everything you know changes or disappears, I suppose you try to hold on to what you know in an effort to find your bearings again. Joe had gone back to work, and Jenna and I had gone back to college a week after Jason died. Since Jenna was participating in the Running Start program (going to college and receiving both high school and college credits while still in high school), she needed to complete her credits in order to graduate. So, we went back to school. The car she had shared with Jason had been destroyed in the accident, so we rode to school together until we could find a car for her.

Easter 2002 was on March 31st, just four weeks after Jason died. On Easter Sunday morning, we got up, got dressed and got ready to go to church. As we started to drive to church, Jenna told us she just couldn’t go. Joe and I realized that we just couldn’t go, either. We turned around and went back home, sat on the bed and cried and cried and cried. It was a horrible day, our first “holiday” without Jason.

I think that was the day I began to realize that I didn’t have to – I couldn’t – carry on the way things had been in the past. The “normal” I had known was gone. It was just a very small inkling of realization, one that I would continue – and keep continuing – to learn. I didn’t have to push my family or myself to keep trying to carry on as usual, because the “usual” was no more. I wasn’t the same. None of us were the same. We didn’t have to go to Easter Sunday service four weeks after Jason died, just because it was something we always had done. We needed to do what we felt we could do, what we wanted or needed to do for ourselves.

I wish someone had told me this way back then, that it was okay to give myself permission not to keep on trying to do things the way they had been done. I kept trying to be strong, kept trying to put on a good face, kept trying to go on the way I had before. It was so exhausting trying to act like I had “before.” That’s the thing, though. For a parent whose child has died, there is a very clear line between the “before” and the “after.” Nothing is the same. Nothing will ever be the same. Easter – and all holidays – can never be the same. How could they be? There is a huge hole in our families, in our lives, in our celebrations. We just have to find a way to find new meaning in those events or special days, and new traditions or ways to celebrate.

I am thankful for the hope that Easter represents: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a way for us to reconcile our sinful, human natures with the holiness of God, Jesus Christ’s victory over death when he rose from the grave, and the promise of eternal life after death. Without the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, I would have no hope of seeing Jason again. And I am so incredibly thankful for that hope.

My precious Jason, I miss you in this Easter season and every day. I love you. I look forward to the day I will see you again.

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

 

Advertisements

Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday is coming up soon, and my boss reminded me of that fact a few days ago. Birthday reminders of clients and employees pop up on his calendar, and he had noticed mine coming up. I just kind of crinkled my nose and went back to working. I’m sure he thought my response to that reminder was very underwhelming.

I like my boss. He’s a good guy. He’s generous and nice to me. That’s important to me as a general rule, but especially important in the workplace since I spend nearly as much waking time at work with him during the week as I do at home with my family. He’s really busy, always has a million things on his mind, and so we don’t chitchat a whole lot about personal things. That’s okay. I would really rather not talk about myself or my life, anyway. The point here is that I’ve never said anything to him about Jason or the death of a child. As a result, I’m sure he thought my reaction to his birthday reminder was a typical female-not-wanting-to-get-older thing.

It got me thinking about what I would say if he commented about my reaction to my birthday. Do I just minimize my reaction and let him think that I just don’t want to get any older? Or do I tell him the truth – that I would really rather skip over my birthday and most “holidays” entirely because of Jason’s death? What exactly would I say? Mentioning the death of a child can really make things awkward. Do I say something or let him be comfortable in his lack of knowledge about Jason? What if the topic of how many children I have or something of the like comes up some other time or way? I guess I just need to process this in case the topic of my birthday and lack of enthusiasm about it comes up again before the actual day.

I’ve always loved holidays and everything that goes along with them – birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July. Making Halloween costumes, planning birthday parties, getting ready to host the 4th of July at our house, baking cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning. You name it. I loved it all with a passion.

I loved shopping for stuff for Easter baskets for the kids. I’d keep my eyes open for weeks before Easter for cute stuffed animals and unique things I could buy. One year I got each of them a bottle of sparking cider for their baskets. My husband kind of scratched his head on that one, but I knew that all of them loved sparkling cider and that they would probably get a kick out of having their own bottles to drink. I’d get up early on Easter morning, sit on the floor of our bedroom in front of the closet where I had been hiding everything, put the baskets together, and then set them in front of their bedroom doors so they could find them first thing when they got up. It made me so very happy to surprise them like that.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I physically felt the excitement I used to feel as I got ready for holidays and events, and it made me smile the biggest smile. But then it was followed by tears welling up in my eyes, because…well…holidays just aren’t the same for me any more. You see, holidays bring into focus the holes in my life, especially the huge hole left by Jason and the aftermath of his death. I have too many holes in my life and struggles surround those holes, and they make holidays really hard. They’re all hard, but holidays that celebrate “me” are hard for me in a different way than other holidays.

Everyone likes to feel special to family and friends and that their lives are celebrated by family and friends. I was no different. I wanted to be surprised by gifts and celebrated on my birthday, to be honored on Mother’s Day, to have love gifts or flowers from my husband on Valentine’s Day, to get well-thought-out-just-for-me presents for Christmas.

I remember one Mother’s Day it seemed as if no one had made any advance preparations to celebrate “my day.” It was one of those “Oh, by the way, Becky, where would YOU like to go for dinner?” years, and it rather peeved me a bit that not more thought had gone into celebrating “me.” Selfish. It just makes me feel so selfish now. How I wish I hadn’t been so selfish.

I guess that’s why I especially don’t like celebrating holidays where the focus is on me. I would gladly trade every single one of them just to have the ordinary days back of being together with my entire family. There were times when other things – “me” things or some activity or perceived need to be addressed – that seemed so important to me at the time. Now, I honestly can’t remember most of what they were. If I can’t remember what they are now, how could I have thought they were so important then? What really is important in this life? If I could just take back all of the times I was selfish – times when I thought I needed “me” time or when I thought I wasn’t being valued as much as I thought I was supposed to be – or when I thought I had too much to do to sit down and play a game of chess or cards with Jason, I would do it in a heartbeat.

You see, I’m just not that important in the whole scheme of things. I don’t feel the need to be celebrated any more. I’d rather the focus be on the people I love than on me. They mean the world to me.

If I could just communicate one thing to parents, it would be to cherish and value their family and those ordinary days with their kids. I see parents rushing their kids along or harping at them for one thing or another. It breaks my heart. Don’t realize how much more important those precious treasures right in front of their noses are than getting on to the next store or whatever? When those moments are gone forever – and especially if those children are gone forever – all of a sudden you see things with a new perspective. I know there are a lot of parents who are really trying really hard to do it right and who value their children beyond measure. It just seems like there are also those who forget how short those days are in the rush of adult things they feel they need to do.

Every parent has regrets, I would venture to say, and wishes they had done certain things differently. I have bucket loads of regrets and things I wish I could or had done differently. There’s nothing I can do about them now, and so I just have to deal with it as best I can.

I think I’ll just skip over my birthday this year and see if I can figure out how to reflect – or perhaps deflect – that attention to someone else so they can feel valued and important.

© 2013 Rebecca R. Carney

My Hope, My Faith

My hope in seeing Jason again lies in my firm belief that, on the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead, thereby conquering death and the grave. It has been and will forever be my faith and my hope.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

For those of us who are Christians, our hope of seeing our loved ones again lies in the risen Christ. Because of the death of Jesus and His resurrection, I know that I will see Jason again.

CC

Good Friday quote

View original post