An Easter Lament
Easter is traditionally the most celebrated holiday in Christian theology. It is a time of resurrection, new birth and beginnings. It is a time when old things are made new and love miraculously wins the day. It is the hope we are all longing, waiting for and desperately need. However, I am not writing about Easter; I am writing about Holy Saturday, the day when all hopes and dreams lay dashed in a tomb.
“Tears stream down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace.” – Coldplay
I woke up this morning lamenting on Holy Saturday. Last night we were dealing with a heartbreaking situation that has culminated for months and woke me up with a feeling that this season has indeed been a Holy Saturday. It is still raw and vulnerable for me to process, but the past year has been one for the books. I woke up on my thirtieth birthday to news that my father-in-law had passed away; my husband lost his job that he loved right before Christmas; my last job ended as disappointingly as one could imagine; and within the last month, I have mysteriously developed low oxygen levels which make it difficult for me to walk and breathe. There are also loved ones suffering through grief, pain and loss that make me feel powerlessly human when I desperately want to make it go away for them.
We are experiencing Holy Saturday.
Losing Justin’s Dad
Last May, my father-in-law had suddenly had gotten sick and was admitted for emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor that had just surfaced. He was not doing well after a few weeks in the hospital, but Justin and I had planned a trip to Charleston to try and decompress from everything that was going on and try and celebrate my birthday. Justin had planned to visit his Dad once he left the hospital, but that never happened.
The day before my birthday, we had received a call from his Mom saying that things had made a turn for the worse, and that he probably only had a couple of weeks left to live. No treatments were working. His body was failing and death was imminent.
After that call, we remorsefully dressed up for a nice dinner that we already reservations to and sat reminiscing between tears and making plans to go to Iowa while drowning our sorrows over Manhattans. I went to bed praying that night, “Dear God please don’t let him die on my birthday.” I believe it was a mix of knowing how horrible his Mom would feel about the dark stamp that would forever leave on that day and selfishly not wanting it to be how my birthday would be remembered. It feels selfish admitting that.
I woke up at 6:30 am the next day to around 15 missed calls from Justin’s family. I didn’t need to listen to the voicemails or read the texts, I knew exactly what had happened. I went outside to have a moment by myself, and then I gently woke Justin up to share the news. We sat together crying and incredulous that it happened so quickly, and that his Dad was gone.
We pray for his Mom every day and the loss of her life partner of nearly 45 years.
This is Holy Saturday.
My husband has always been a rock star at work. He had been promoted to a Senior Vice President at his job well before he turned thirty. He is very humble about his achievements, so you will never hear that from him, but I will proudly brag for a minute.
He had been placed on a large project last fall with a lot of senior level exposure and had done a fantastic job with the work. As soon as that project ended around Thanksgiving, he was told there was no longer a place for him in the organization. His company was experiencing financial hardship and reorganizations were happening everywhere. We were both devastated.
He spent the next month networking internally with as many folks as he could, but due to the hiring freezes at the time, there were no positions available. I was sitting with him at a coffee shop the morning he received the meeting notice from HR. We both knew immediately what the meeting agenda entailed. We sat there with a mixture of anger, frustration and fear about the future.
This was about a week before Christmas.
This is Holy Saturday.
I Can’t Breathe
At the beginning of February, Justin and I had a chance to visit one of our favorite friends in Los Angeles. He had graciously agreed to host us, and we were looking forward to a much needed getaway. The timing was impeccable as both of our job situations were incredibly stressful. His for lack of one and mine for reasons that I cannot disclose. The trip was exactly what we needed, and we returned to Charlotte feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The next day I put in my two-week notice at work for a new position I had just accepted, and that’s when everything started to unravel. I ended up in the Emergency Room for a rare form of migraine that frightened me and left my car alone on the side of the highway.
I thought I was able to rest and recover before starting this next chapter. However, I woke up a little over a month ago with shortness of breath. I started to notice subtle symptoms like when I walked into work in the mornings from the parking garage my heart would be racing, and I felt very winded. It continued to progress to where the fatigue I was experiencing forced me to leave work early for a job that I had just started. The last couple of weekends I have just laid on the couch only mustering up enough strength to walk when absolutely necessary. This has caused another round of doctor visits, medical tests and uncertainty.
I thought that my health was back after I recovered from hip surgery, now I’m suddenly feeling like it’s slipping away again. I have more upcoming doctors tests next week to determine the issue and hopefully find the right course of treatment.
This is Holy Saturday.
Looking for Easter
So as I look for the dawn to break in on this darkness, disappointment and uncertainty, I’m doing my best to sit in hopeful anticipation of resurrection.
I imagine the grief of losing a parent never really goes away. I’m sure it stings less, but on the days you want to share exciting news or ask a question about how to do something around the house, or complain that your boss is being an a$$hole, will never leave. I’m learning to say “I’m sorry” is the best thing to offer most days and tug a hand or give a hug when those painful reminders present themselves in public.
I’m also hopeful that Justin will find an incredible full time opportunity and serve the organization faithfully with fantastic results—because that is who he is—someone who always goes out of his way to go above and beyond and put others first.
I’m also trusting that these health issues are forcing me to slow down during a period where there has been so much change and so much disappointment. My body will not allow me to ignore it any longer. Healing can only come when grief and pain have been processed. This is not easy—this is not how I want Easter to be. I do not want to sit through the Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays of suffering to receive the glory of new birth and redemption.
So as we all embark on our own Holy Saturdays, because we all have those situations and demons that taunt us, I pray we will be comforted in this season of waiting for our Easters to bloom. That is what fuels my hope, because when I look back on every Holy Saturday, there has always been an Easter. It is usually not the path I would have taken or the outcome I expected, but the death and disappointment have always risen and given life to new beginnings. This is good news.
This is Easter.