My freshman year of college I heard that my grandmother had terminal cancer on Easter Sunday. I had just gotten back from a friend's house where I ate my weight in food; it was the last thing I was expecting. I found it so ironic that this day was supposed to be about hearing the news of resurrection but I was hearing just the opposite. I then spent two weeks living in fear of my phone ringing from home, not wanting to hear the news that she died. She died exactly a week before my birthday.
I'm still working on my emotions surrounding Easter to this day. My grandmother meant so much to me and her death rocked my faith to its foundations. I still expect her to call me and tell me about the gossip of the day; I have the last card she sent me in college hanging in my room at home. I view Easter as a fanfare occasion, but I also have the experience of seeing this time just as the disciples saw it during Biblical times: a time of deep grief and confusion.
So, I am bringing the opposite of Easter joy to this blog so far. But I want to tell you about my first Easter in New Orleans. I was on a mission to find a good gift for my host parents who have taken such great care of me over the past few months while I've been here (Forewarning to Kathy and Lee: this blog will ruin your Easter gift!). I was perusing some things when I spotted an orchid. It's gorgeous and colorful, but most importantly, it reminded me of resurrection so much that I bought it.
Backstory: our neighbors bought my family an orchid a number of years ago and it NEVER died. I remember coming into the kitchen on numerous occasions at home and seeing it looking dead as a doornail—thank you Charles Dickens—but then shortly thereafter it would regrow flowers and be gorgeous again. My mother just recently replaced it with another orchid, but the first lasted years and went through a constant flurry of death and rebirth in the window of our sunlit kitchen.
Isn't that the perfect metaphor for Easter? This orchid that I imagined dead and regrew in front of my eyes? Something that I continue to imagine gone but keeps coming back to surprise me. I miss my grandmother every day, but I have reminders of her everywhere I look, and that grief I experienced pushed me to question my faith and continue questioning things in my life. She shows up in small moments of my life: in the clothes I wear that she bought me, in photographs in my grandfather's house, in my father's detailed chronicling of her family's history. Easter is that reminder each year, that death is not definitive because people leave so much of themselves on the earth. So even though those we love do not resurrect like Jesus did, they do live on in our memories and our hearts.
My song this time is from Coldplay; many of you probably know them because they were the halftime performance for the Super Bowl this year. But I think the reason I go to them is because their lyrics are so poetic. I encourage you to read the lyrics as the song plays because they are just as important as the beat. Here's “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”