I've said it before and I'll say it again, "What a difference a year makes!" This time in regard to Easter.
Last year: I dressed the kids in play clothes and winter coats and rubber boots. We waited until dawn's early light and started walking the half mile across frozen soybean fields to our vehicles. The kids were tired, couldn't walk fast, and with only two sets of arms, Kiddo1 had to be a trooper and walk in the grey light and the black mud. When we got to the van, I took off the frontpack that held Kiddo3 and the backpack that contained our Easter clothes and we dressed in the cold van.
(You may be asking, "Why didn't you just take the boat around your flooded road?" Well, the ice wasn't off the water and if the remaining ice would have shifted we'd be stranded. Up a flooded road without a path.)
This year: We DROVE (can you tell I love that part) our van from our house to THE FARM and spent the night in the bosom of my childhood.
It was a bittersweet trip. As we were doing some last minute siding wrap-up Saturday morning, I found out that our beloved neighbor at THE FARM was killed in a car accident. My heart broke. My dad's longest friend, they literally grew up a mile from each other, went to school in the same class, farmed the land together on either side of the section line. They would dig each other out in the winter and pull each other out in the spring. A man of God. He and his wife were the first to come to my mom when she got home last fall. They all cried together.
I knew I had to go see his family and in our community, we don't go empty handed. We bring food. Comfort for the body as we comfort each other. I baked buns, pulled fresh kuchen out of the freezer and we went home.
Hubby and the kids stayed at THE FARM and I went alone. To a house I'd been in many times which now seemed almost empty even when it was full of people. There was no big man with big hands, a big laugh and an even bigger heart. We hugged, we cried. Death is not easy.
My mom asked that I put some flowers on Dad's grave. I left our neighbor's and went to the cemetery, a very fitting place to spend Easter Saturday.
As I stood next to the bare earth that marks his grave and wept, it struck me how this Easter is so much like the first Easter. My father is gone, our neighbor is gone. Our little community on Old #7 has lost its bedrock of 70 years. What are we to do? How are we to go on?
Is this a just a bit of what the disciples felt on their Easter Saturday?
Those men and women stood beside a tomb and wept, knowing that their bedrock was gone. What were they to do? How were they to go on?
But then Sunday came...for them and for me.
We went to my home church, the church I was raised in. My family. The first time I'd been there without my parents. We were slightly late for the 7am service. But our old family pew was still open. Not the one my parents moved to ACROSS THE AISLE, but the one we'd always sat in as a family. And as I sat there with my three kids (two girls and a boy) and thought of my parents sitting in this same pew with their two girls and a boy. I miss them terribly. I miss us together. But I was wrapped in the arms of my church family. Who hugged me and loved me and we missed my folks together. We ate breakfast with my mom's best friend who dreamt about her the night before. I sat next to my dear friend Anna and we traded mother-of-young-children stories as our husband's managed the chaos of kids and too many jelly beans.
Last year: I fought the flood waters.
This year: I didn't fight the flood of tears and emotions, but let myself be loved and held in arms of my church family and in the promise that death is not the end. Because Jesus's tomb was empty on Sunday morning, I know my dad and neighbor stand together in heaven. Death is not the end. Praise God, death is not the end.