Easter. Happy.

This Easter brought another reminder of yet another new normal. Easter was my dad’s favorite holiday, and this was our first without him. I was doing okay until, while sitting at the Easter Vigil mass with Mom and some of the extended family on Saturday night, the priest acknowledged us and expressed his sympathies at the absence of my dad.  I guess it might be a while before we can get through holidays without a few tears.

Otherwise, this holiday weekend brought about the usual full house and chaos. It also brought with it some new realizations.

I’ve always enjoyed the holidays with my family. I love them particularly now that the kids are grown because our usual daily lives keep us mostly spread out in different directions. I no longer have the luxury of seeing my kids every day or spending endless amounts of time with them. It is these special occasions that bring us all back together again for a little while. It’s weekends like this one that bring me the most joy these days.

All of those years when I thought I couldn’t wait to have a little time to myself again, I never imagined what would make me happiest is to share every bit of my time and space with these people whom I love so very much.

Just a few years ago, I was quite certain what the future would look like for our family by now. This weekend, I realized how different our lives look now from the pictures I’d imagined back then. I’ve learned some things in the past few years about being too certain of tomorrow, and about holding on too tightly. I’ve been reminded that life is full of highs and lows, and that people come and go from our lives, whether by choice or because their time has come. Some days might be fantastically phenomenal. Others could bring heartbreak.

But as the saying goes, life goes on, and with it comes new possibilities, new people to love, and so many new reasons to have hope.

Our Easter photos this year don’t include some people who just a few years ago I’d thought would be in all of our future pictures. It hurt for a long while after they’d gone. I often wondered what went wrong, and how things might have been different. I sometimes wished I’d had some magic power to make things go the way we’d have wished, to avoid all the hurt.

But time heals, and as new people join us on the path of our lives, I realize this is how it goes sometimes, and all we can do is love and support each other through all the ins and outs of life.

Chesney’s had someone new in her life for a few months now. I got to meet him a few weeks ago and liked him right away. I liked how respectful he was of my daughter, the quiet affection he showed her, and they way they made each other laugh. My mom got to meet him too. As soon as he told her he was from a farming family, Mom instantly loved him. How could she not? She grew up on a farm herself.

After that first meeting, Mom asked me what I thought of Chesney’s boyfriend, and I told her I liked him, but I wasn’t going to let myself get attached so quickly this time around. I learned the hard way how much it hurts to love the people your kids love, and then watch them slip away.

The new boyfriend came to spend this weekend with Chesney and celebrate Easter with us. I was nervous beforehand. Would an entire weekend be too much too soon? Would he feel crowded in our small house with all of these people and two rambunctious dogs? Would our weird-and-craziness make him uncomfortable? Would our dysfunctional extended families scare him off?

All that worry was for nothing. The kid showed up on Friday evening and settled right in as if he’d known all of us for ages. He seemed happy to meet Jaeger and Ryker, and in fact, made fast friends with Jaeger. They’re already making plans to go fishing together. And Jack’s intimidating father act melted away almost instantly. The boyfriend survived introductions to all of the extended family and handled like a champ all of the teasing Chesney’s uncles dished out.

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I can’t keep saying I’m not getting attached. What I’ve seen so far is a wonderful young man who I’m thrilled is a part of my daughter’s life right now. He makes her happy and that makes me happy. I’ve decided to let myself get attached. I’m not afraid anymore. If there’s one tough lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that tomorrow isn’t promised. We have to throw caution to the wind and embrace what’s in front of us today. Anyway, I’d rather feel happy at the risk of getting hurt, than sit numb on the sidelines for fear of it.

Besides, there was no question about getting attached when the boyfriend got in line behind my daughter to hug me goodbye as they were leaving after a very full and fun weekend.

That sealed it. As long as he’s around, he’ll be treated as one of my own. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Easter. Happy.

  1. Happy Easter Tee! The first holidays after losing a close family member are the most difficult. Especially ones that were most meaningful to them. It’s been a few years now since my in-laws passed, and today we actually enjoyed reminiscing about past Easters at their house. It was fun, not sad.
    So glad to hear Chesney has someone in her life that makes her happy, and good for you to not avoid loving him as your own. I tend to do that often to avoid hurt, but I sure miss out on a lot by doing that. I could (and should) learn a lot from you.

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  2. Happy Easter, Tee! I know how hard holidays can be without those you love. It’s been seven years now since my dad passed, and I still miss him! The good thing is hanging on to the promise that we’ll meet again one day — what a joyous reunion that will be!

    As for your daughter’s new young man, good call. We can’t prevent heartaches — either in our kids or in ourselves — unless we completely shut down our emotions. And you know that’s not living!! People come into our lives for a season or a reason, and we can only accept the gift they are…for however long they’re present to us. I just know he fit right in with y’all — how could he help not lining up for a goodbye hug?!?

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  3. Happy (day after) Easter! First holidays after a loved one passes are tough. I thought I was prepared to lose each of my parents, but I still think of them with sadness and miss them daily. But then I remember, they’re in a better place now.
    Nice of you to break in Chesney’s new guy! It’s not up to us to decide who our kids end up with or when it happens, so we can just enjoy the ride and trust their judgments (and miss the ones that get away!). You’ve got great kids, they likely won’t bring home any red flags!

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  4. I had those same thoughts about my kids’ significant others, but it’s easier said than done – not getting attached. Like you said, “I’d rather feel happy at the risk of getting hurt, than sit numb on the sidelines for fear of it.” Well said!

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  5. “…. I wasn’t going to let myself get attached so quickly this time around”
    —Tee

    I paused to reflect on that line.
    But not for the reason you would automatically think!

    The first Easter gave us a smorgasboard of characters who actually are just like us, in our Easters.
    The first Pope-to-be, Peter, showed us mini betrayals done repeatedly.
    Judas donated his name for eternity as symbolic of ultimate betrayal….and done by a kiss!
    And Thomas? He taught us doubt.

    And all of those real characters of Easter long ago, created the quoted Tee sentence above.

    Easter counts.
    Christmas would be meaningless unless the agony in Gethsemane produced the “Yes, Father” to die for other’s to gain.

    We enter in this season, and in this blogpost, a choice; to believe or to not believe. Not just the God stuff.
    Everything in life.

    “Who told you that you were naked?” boomed God in the Garden of Eden to His recent creation, man and woman….who both betrayed Him.

    Did He think…. ” I wasn’t going to let myself get attached so quickly this time around”??…after Adam and Eve?

    The joy of Santa Claus was taught to us by someone generous. We trusted them. We believed them!
    We just as quickly attached belief in the Easter Bunny …never a Gold medal character in the Olympics of belief-in-me folks, but higher than the Tooth Fairy.

    And we learned of God in our youth.

    In her teen years, my daughter went on a Missions trip to the dumps outside Mexico City. Kids scoured garbage as a way to stay alive. 26 million people in town led different lives. Her boyfriend went on that trip too.

    It was time for the bus from the airport to drop all the teens at church to go home. I gabbed of golf with the dad of my daughter’s boyfriend.

    Soon, the two teens got off the bus, walked toward parents, as we two dads waited for our kids.
    The lad said something to my daughter. Her feet stopped immediately and she faced him.
    We dads did not hear the conversation; we could see the effects.
    My daughters shoulders froze.
    Blocks of ice formed on top of them, and more blocks of ice continued to form as she stood facing her young man….until a solid wall was invisibly and permanently constructed between them.
    It was like when an adult women says to a man…. “Whatever!”
    At that word, a price is gonna be paid and NOT by her.

    The dad in the lot looked at me, I looked at him, and we knew at my daughter’s apparent “Whatever!” to teen boyfriend-no-longer-worthy-of-belief….we two dads knew it was over.

    “What did he say to you when you guys got off the bus?” , I queried my daughter.
    She answered with her eyes… teardrops.

    I trusted that boy not to hurt my little girl. His dad trusted too.
    I allowed my daughter to go with their family to Maine one Fall to see Acadia National Park in Fall glory. Postcards from Maine would be jettisoned in our garbage dump. I wondered if we had homeless on the outer edges of our dump looking for foodscraps too.

    My daughter packed her heart in ice that night, a bit over a decade ago. The boy was never mentioned again, despite years of being family involved, proms, travel, etc.

    I taught her of Santa.
    And tooth fairy.
    And Easter bunny.
    And Christ.

    All of her beliefs faded into unbelief over time, ‘cept Christ. He is still her main man to this day.

    This past Spring she asked me to please come to her baptism.
    I wobbled in vertigo to snap a picture before she was dunked. She stood in that pool of water in her church, staring up at me until she knew I snapped a memory moment photo.
    Then she went under water with pastor assistance to publicly proclaim “I believe”.

    I gave her a video of her baptism as an infant in my arms. A few weeks prior, she was born so fast, the doctor had not yet reached the hospital. The nurse did delivery.
    She asked me if I would like to cut the umbilical cord.
    “The doc was paid a lot to do that”, I replied. “Tell him YOU did his work”.
    The nurse laughed, separated my daughter from her mother (as divorced would repeat two years later)…then wrapped her up after medical preliminaries, and handed her to my open arms.

    All babies are easy to believe in.
    Hope. Promise. Rainbows. Dreams.
    They were all in that bundle in my arms.

    We were not together this Easter.
    She dropped me off at the airport for unexpected travel to the Deep South.
    She picked me up at the airport Tuesday after Easter. Graduation is in May and those last tests, while working 3 jobs, and taking time for Dad, made her seem more weary than at any time of her life.

    At home, I am decluttering decades of accumulations. I saved a plaque for her that we learned before she was 10.

    I was worried about insurance coverage on a 40 foot crack in my basement wall. (They denied. Earth movement ain’t covered, tho a tree root did the damage).

    A guy named Etienne came from Burkino Faso, Africa the same week.
    He lived in a hut and had no basement worries.
    When he entered the room where a group of us gathered, his holiness, just holiness you could feel, made all eyes turn to him in silence.
    He is the holiest man I ever met.

    Tho he came for money for Africa, he left far more in his simple words that he brought half a world away, for us to hear:
    “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
    ~~~ Micah 6:8

    Your proclamation,  “I wasn’t going to let myself get attached so quickly this time around” above turned in to ….
    ” I’ve decided to let myself get attached. I’m not afraid anymore.”

    That sure looks like a choice to believe!
    It is just.
    It reflects mercy.
    And lately, walks humbly with your God.

    I have still not cut the invisible umbilical cords to my daughter’s heart and soul. I decided long ago to stay attached to her.

    But I think we are both still discovering the richness that is Easter. Keep growing.
    Believe.

    File/ daughter, family, holydays. :- )

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