Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Musings

Spring. Easter. Heartache. Change. Hope.

Thursday will mark two years since we lost Pantalaimon. I found out on Good Friday two years ago that I was probably going to miscarry, that the baby we had hoped for and tried for since the previous summer appeared to have stopped growing and did not have a heartbeat. On April 20, I had a D&C, as my body had not yet figured out that I was no longer pregnant. 

Last Eastertime, I shaved my head on Good Friday. I donated my hair to Pantene's program and raised almost $4,000 for St. Baldrick's Foundation. I wore my wig to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. My sisters and their kids came to visit over their (and my) Spring Break, and we had a great time. 

Last Thursday, I saw my radiation oncologist for my followup appointment. It was so weird to be back there. For two months, I hurried there after work, talked with the staff while waiting for my treatment, showed pictures of Finn if he wasn't with me, handed him off to whichever staff member had volunteered to play with him while I got my boob zapped if he was. For two months, I was deeply involved with the staff there. It was my routine; it was part of my life. And then, with a burnt, peeling, painful boob and the ringing of the radiation bell, it was over. I brought in some peanut brittle and a Christmas card, and that was it. Life went back to...well, I'm not sure there is a normal yet. 

Friday, Good Friday, my mother was admitted to the hospital for chest pains and a suspected heart attack. Just this morning, we learned there was no blockage, and they suspect the episode was related to her blood pressure, which she's had difficulty controlling over the last month. We're grateful, so, so grateful that she is okay. She is going home this afternoon. 

Saturday, I went to the Easter Vigil. Kevin stayed home with Finn, as the time overlapped with Finn's bedtime and Kevin was not feeling well. I needed to go. I needed that touchpoint, that connection, that peace and comfort and solace that comes from the celebration. I had said to Kevin earlier in the afternoon that it didn't really feel like Easter. We were out of town on Palm Sunday, and the 7pm start times for services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday were just too difficult with the baby. It was weird for me to not have those moments. I missed them. And then on Saturday night, we gathered in the beautiful sanctuary at First and St. Steven's UCC, and we had an amazing service. We started in the courtyard with the new fire, the new light. We lit the Easter Candle, we sang the Gloria I love so much, the Sing Glory to God one that takes me back to my days at Western Carolina. We praised, we read from the Hebrew Testament, heard phenomenal reflections, read from the Christian Testament, heard more reflections. We sang Alleluia for the first time in over 40 days. I proclaimed the Gospel; David, bishop and pastor, nailed the homily once again. We broke bread, remembering why we do so, remembering that it is only by being broken that the bread gives us life that makes us whole. We shared peace. We shared peace. We shared peace.

Sunday we celebrated Finn's first Easter with treats from the Easter Bunny, which included new toys to match his development, shoes as he gets ready to start walking, and several books. Kevin and I each got some excellent socks, a couple of games (Joking Hazard for me, Catan card game for Kevin), and a few other treats and candy. We spent the afternoon at Kevin's aunt and uncle's house with lots of family, food, and Easter activities. For the past several years, we've had an adult Easter Egg Hunt, where the prizes are booze and scratch off lottery tickets, and the like. This year, with three young ones in the family, we also had a kids' hunt, though Finn and I napped through it, since he skipped his afternoon nap. The other family tradition is the Schenning Egg Picking Contest. It is a big deal. I'd never heard of egg picking before meeting Kevin, nor have most people, even other Baltimoreans. Wikipedia talks about it here, and the Baltimore Sun wrote about its Baltimore roots a few years ago.  Holy smokes. It was more than a few years ago. 1993 was 24 years ago. How is that possible? Anyway, at my first egg picking, I came in second place, losing to Kevin's dad in the final round. This year, I was knocked out in the first round, despite our efforts to boil hardier eggs using the Instant Pot rather than the stovetop (Kevin and Finn both lost in the first round as well. At least those eggs are easier to peel.)

At this time of year, that time which for me is so full of joy and hope but also and fear and sorrow, it has been a week of shared peace. We are an Easter people, and even at the grave, Alleluia is our song. 

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