Today is Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful 71° day in Kentucky and we spent the day outside with family, cooking out and laughing. But, there was an elephant in the room for me.
While we celebrated the holiday that’s all about hope, renewal and new life, I felt anything but hope. As a Christian, I know I shouldn’t say that. This holiday is so significant; so symbolic and life-changing, but my present suffering has overshadowed the glorious message of Easter and if I could sum up grief-stricken depression in one sentence- that would be it. My grief/depression is so big that it has distracted me from the beauty of Easter.
My kids collected dozens of candy-filled eggs scattered throughout my in-laws yard and my dad joined us with Easter baskets for my kids in tow, and while I laughed and smiled most of the day, I was also on the verge of tears for what wasn’t there- for who wasn’t there.
Today was the first holiday without my mom. It has been exactly 60 days since she died; a few more days on top of that since I’ve heard her voice; an additional 14 or so more days since I had a normal, fully coherent conversation with her.
If she were here, she would’ve been at our house with over-the-top Easter baskets for the kids; a time-consuming craft with way too many pieces that I would have zero interest in doing with my kids, and she would be taking way too many pictures of her grand babies that she absolutely adored. She would’ve accompanied me to church. She’d be here all weekend or longer sharing Keto recipes and falling off the Keto wagon with me for a piece of pineapple upside down cake. She’d probably be eating a bowl of cereal with me at 9:30PM after the kids went to sleep.
She would’ve been here.
Instead she was gone.
Never to be seen again.
My younger two kids won’t remember her. My oldest will only have faint memories. I will likely spend more time on this Earth without my mom than I did with her, and if that’s not depressing, then I don’t know what is.
It’s hard to feel peaceful about death when you know that the recipient wasn’t ready.
She was only 50.
She wasn’t done visiting.
She wasn’t done listening.
She wasn’t ready.
As difficult as this holiday is, it’s also symbolic of this season of my life where there is renewal. Although grim, my life has been renewed, never to be the same again. This new life that I have reluctantly settled into is one without my mom. It’s one without my kids’ Nona. It’s one that I never anticipated having so soon, at just 30 years old.
The first holiday without my mom has been about as sad as you can expect or as you have experienced yourself. And as much as I’d love to write that there is a silver lining, there’s not. Not for me, anyway. Probably not for you either. I wish that I could say that a Cardinal landed on my shoulder today or that a heard a significant song on the radio, but today was quiet in the messages-from-the-afterlife department, like most days thus far. They don’t make movies about the message-free grief that people experience.
Today is the first holiday I’ve endured without my mom, not realizing that a year ago would be the last holiday with her.
I push forward for my kids. I’m doing all of the “things” that I should be doing to manage this grief but does it ever really get better?
Some days I only cry for 5 minutes compared to the usual, nightly 30.
Maybe those numbers will decrease?
Maybe the ‘daily’ will turn into ‘weekly?’
I don’t seek out the silver lining for this, because the only silver lining is what she’s experiencing now, which is not the pain of cancer or chemo; it’s not the burdens of life or bills or complicated relationships. I fully believe that my mom is living her best life now.
But, as selfish as it sounds, that leaves me with a void. That leaves my kids with a hole.
I’m happy for her, but sad for me.
I’m relieved for her, but devastated for my kids.
I’m grateful for her, but angry at old people for getting to be old.
It’s selfish really. A selfish longing. A selfish grudge against cancer, because now it’s personal. A constant bitterness for every undeserving person walking this Earth, as if one life is more important than another.
This was the first holiday I longed for her presence but it won’t be the last. The last holiday will also be my last holiday.
And that is grief.
But, it has no ending.
I will carry this grief to my grave like a brick chained to my ankle and I can only pray for God to make me stronger for the load that I’m carrying.