Sunday, March 31, 2013

She's not here.

In the seven months and nine days since Mom died, one phrase has been just below the surface of every event, every milestone. Through Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, one sentence has been like the steady rhythm of train wheels on the tracks: "She's not here. She's not here. She's not here..." I keep thinking that train will slow down at some point, but it only seems to be picking up speed as the months pass. Oh, how I miss her.

Of course, we've still managed to make the most of holidays, of our annual rituals. I wouldn't dare deprive my own children of these traditions. Besides, we know she would hate for us to skip a celebration. With her positive outlook, every day was worth celebrating. No holiday was too small to recognize. Ever the kindergarten teacher, she saw each month as a new chance to hang another decorative flag, to hit the Target dollar aisles and buy some new trinkets.

But it's exactly that enthusiasm for the silly decorations that kept me from putting out our spring chickens and fluffy bunnies this year. I could see my mother's love of all things cutesy in those pastel eggs and ceramic baskets, and I just couldn't bear to have to look at them in our house—not yet, anyway. So in the boxes they stayed.

While I had three quite full tubs in my living room, our church was focusing its Easter service on the word EMPTY. The emphasis? Because of the empty tomb, we can have salvation. Jesus' death and resurrection mean we can have eternal life.

As a regular Sunday School student, I don't remember ever NOT knowing John 3:16, but as the list of my deceased loved ones lengthens, that verse's significance grows. The "whosoever" is more personal now that I can fill in the names: Mom, Daddy, Tim, Megann, Aunt Lois, Granny, Papa... They all shall not perish but have eternal life. Eternal!

So this Easter, I dyed the eggs and loaded the kids' baskets. I laughed about the well-hidden "prize egg" and chowed down at Nana's Easter lunch. And more than a couple of times, I cried amid the ever-present "She's not here" refrain. But because of that first Easter, I know that someday those words will no longer be true, that our separation is only temporary. Mom has eternal life because of that empty tomb.

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"
—Luke 24:5-6

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