As this Easter dawns, I'm reminded of a very significant-to-me Easter seven years ago, in April 2003 (because apparently I couldn't count on you to do the math).
Our twin sons had just been born the month before, and Robby had died. Our other son, Jack, had spent a harrowing month in the NICU, mostly a feed-and-grow baby, before being released on Easter Eve. We had been invited to attend the new Saturday evening service of the church we still attend now, so we decided to take our newly-sprung baby boy, along with our 19-month-old Chloë, to Easter service.
In the month since Robby had died, I had been, of course, an emotional wreck. I still had to be Mama to Chloë at home, still had to run daily to spend hours at the hospital with Jack, still had to produce and express breast milk for him, which required regular eating, still had to communicate with and show love for my also-grieving husband... while at the same time, a big part of me had died inside along with my angel son. To say the least, it was not an easy time.
The first thing I noticed when we took our seats at the church, was that two rows in front of us, a couple was toting a pair of identical pink carseats, with two tiny baby girls inside. Yes, girls, but obviously newborn twins and, from the looks of it, identical ones, too. My fragile heart shattered anew. Rob looked at me. "Do you want to leave?" I did, but I assured him that I wanted to stay. Somehow, I needed to be there.
And I did.
As the pastor talked about the events of that long-ago time when Jesus rose from the dead, inside I dwelt on the circumstances of his death. For the first time in my life, during which I had always been a Christian and had never stopped believing, the enormity and magnitude of what God had done for us struck me like a lightning bolt. I had just lost my own son, and here He had given us His only son, His only child, so that we might be saved. In the past, I could not comprehend how meaningful and difficult that must have been. At that time, seven years ago, I understood all too well. It was everything. It was sacrificing one's own self for the good of all mankind.
I cried during that service and didn't care who saw me. I will probably cry again when we go to Easter service later this morning, after three Easter baskets and six dozen plastic Easter eggs filled with icky-yucky jellybeans are hunted and found, chocolate bunny ears nibbled, faces washed, and tiny bodies tugged unwillingly into pastel dresses and sweater vests. And I won't care who sees me.
I don't claim to be the best mother ever, or the best wife. When provoked, some horrible things sometimes spill out of my mouth; it's a learned behavior. But I love that man, and I love those three imps, more than I could ever try to explain to you in words alone. There is only One who knows, and He has given us the greatest gift: everlasting life.