It's Easter weekend, a dreary spring day in my cozy home in the mountains of the Pacific NW. I’m a divorced Mom of two, my family lives thousands of miles away and I’m alone. You’d think after two years I’d be used to spending most holidays in one form or another by myself. I either wake up without my kids or I wake with them and transition them to their father mid-day.
During the Easter day transition, my youngest, who will be 6 in about a month fell off off the kitchen island bar stool. I went to grab her and she clung to me like something was really wrong. When I asked her if she was hurt or scared (her two most common responses to falling) she said instead that she missed Grammy and Grampa (my parents). Her father and I had just been talking about me taking the girls to see my parents this summer.
I watched his eyes tear up over her sadness. Her words were a trigger for his own sadness. This is his first Easter without his Mom. My mother-in-law died almost a year ago; just past Easter last year.
Darlene loved Easter. She would make huge baskets for everyone. I have no doubt that the sadness of her passing will settle into her family, including my daughters, this weekend as they celebrate this, their first Easter without her.
Firsts are like that. That’s what I heard from everyone when my post-divorce life was in full effect. “The firsts are the hardest.” First birthday’s, first holidays, first vacations. "After that it gets a little easier." Today I’m calling bullshit on the “easier” part of this statement. It gets different. I’ll give you different but definitely not easy.
I have no family where I live; the girls are my family. So unless I’m invited by someone to be with them and their family; I’m alone. I could be more proactive in securing some place to be or someone to be with. It is however very hard to ask to crash someone’s holiday. It’s also hard to breathe your way through the sadness when you are invading someone else’s core.
I want to reestablish my own core. I’m just not sure where to begin.
When I was a kid, my family swapped holidays around. We were at Aunt Helen’s for Thanksgiving. Aunt Deedee’s & Uncle Roger’s for Christmas Day, Aunt Sophie’s for Christmas Eve.
Easter was ours. I remember the care and planning that went into the meal and set up. It was a full week or more of work. The dining room tables, extended to hold upwards of 30 had the best linens covering them. The china came out of the hutch. I remember the wooden box that held the silver ware. It was like a precious treasure. I never got tired of setting the Easter table.
My sister and I always got new dresses. The Easter baskets were set on top of the gorgeously topped table. Our house cleaned from top to bottom. Then there was the opportunity to help prepare for the event. My sister and I had small tasks but we did them with great pride.
We knew how important this holiday was to my Mom. We did our best to help make it exceptional.
Besides the great fan fare, some of my best memories revolved around me and my sister coloring Easter eggs.
We are both incredibly creative and eggs were an avenue for that creativity. We’d go next door and watch my grandmother color her eggs with onion skins; forming this beautiful reddish brown color. We’d marvel at it, then go back and do whatever we could to create “modern” multi-colored eggs. I remember eating them in a specific order being sure to keep my favorites in tact for as long as the eggs would last.
These are the memories that made Easter special to me as a child.
If the core of my memories for Easter (and other holdiays) revolve around a huge family convening together; the comparative value of a half of a day with my girls and just the three of us seems so pale by comparison.
I also know that when they leave the small world that we’ve built as a threesome, they are with their Dad and his family; the girls surrounded by the chaos of a loving family filled with aunts, uncles and cousins.
I am happy that they get to experience both sides of the holiday coin. A part of me is sad that what they experience is so disjointed.
I know it won’t always be like this. I expect that someday; I’ll meet someone new and maybe we’ll have a different plan around holidays that won’t be anything that I can currently wrap my head around.
The fact is I don’t know what the future will bring. Try as I might however; the current reality has been hard to absorb.
I’m sure there will come a time when I’ll look back on these moments when it was just me and my girls and relish that I had them. I’ll consider this one of the greatest parts of the development of our new core; the new center that I hope will keep my girls grounded as they grow.
It’s what I’m striving for.
Today however, as has been the pattern with the last few holidays, I have a nagging sense that something is missing. The missing thing doesn’t have a name or at least I’m not sure that I will be able to name it while I’m in the middle of how I’m feeling.
I know only that my role is to keep moving forward, one action at at time. I know that radical self care is in order. I know that sadness, like all feelings, has it’s place in my story.
I also know that my story is truly a colorful, breathtaking and beautiful one.
My story has a purpose. Everyone’s story has a purpose. That purpose today is to help others feel less alone because I know I’m not the only one who’s experiencing what I’ve just shared.
Life is evolving and shifting for many. I share because there is comfort in knowing that others have walked the same road.
Who do you know that could benefit from hearing this story or your own? I encourage you to share. Not only can you learn something about yourself as the storyteller but because comfort on a tough journey can make all the difference for someone you love.
You can never know the power of your story until you try and tell it.