The holidays are rough. Nearly anyone who has ever lost someone close to them will tell you that. What they don’t tell you is that there will be no real rhyme or reason to exactly how rough or how gentle a particular holiday might be. Sometimes you reach the end of the day and think to yourself, “Well that wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.” Other times, you find yourself sobbing in the grass struggling to breathe. Yesterday was Easter and unfortunately, it was the latter of those two options.
I can’t, or won’t, speculate about the exact reasons why yesterday was so rough because I’m sure it was a combination of things. This would have been Aaron’s third Easter and he would have been old enough to toddle around trying to find an egg or two in the back yard at my parents’ house. He would have had a noisy little toy car to throw around just like his brother and my nephew were doing. We would have been struggling to keep him from trying to eat handfuls of candy like his sisters did. And at the end of it all, we would have packed him into his car seat and hoped he fell asleep for the car ride home.
Instead, the “Easter Bunny” left a little toy car on the table with everyone else’s chocolate bunnies, candy and toys. I heard my five year old remark how nice it was that the Easter Bunny brought something for Baby Aaron too. We opened baskets and took pictures, all the while thinking in the back of my head that I should have been trying to fit four happy little faces into the frame instead of three. We got everyone dressed and packed into the van, stopping to make sure that we had the toy car and the pinwheel for the cemetery. We spent time eating and laughing and spending time with our family. We watched as the kids had their egg hunt and I fought back silent tears as I thought of the two-year old missing from all the fun. When it was time to go, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. But instead of heading home, our next stop was the cemetery…just like it is after every holiday and family get-together.
I can assure you that there is no feeling in the world quite like watching your two oldest children running across a quiet cemetery to the grave of their little brother. There really are no words to describe how it feels to watch your five year old kneel in the grass so she can play the music from her new jewelry box for her baby brother or to see your four year old bend down carefully to kiss the top of his headstone. I can not explain to you the anguish in my heart as they tenderly and purposefully rearranged each little trinket we have left for him during the last two years. And I would never want you to know exactly how it feels to watch that same four year old do a little dance in the grass beside your son’s resting place because she wants her brother to see what a good dancer she is. I hope you never have to hear a five year old explain to her little sister that their brother’s soul is up in Heaven and his body is below the ground under “the pretty stone we got for him.” I wish she didn’t have the need to feel like she has to remind her sister about how to be careful of other people’s gravesites because “you don’t want to step on their special resting places because we wouldn’t like it if someone else stepped on Baby Aaron’s.” I wish I didn’t know how it felt to comfort those same little bodies when the tears slip from their eyes and they tell me how much they wish he was here with us instead of in Heaven. I hope you never find yourself sobbing in the grass on a sunny Easter afternoon feeling so sad, angry and frustrated at a world that no longer resembles the one you used to know not so long ago.
I have always fought so hard to find the grace and the beauty in Aaron’s short little life…sometimes I win that fight and sometimes I don’t. I have tried so hard to keep this space one of healing and encouragement, but that also means being honest in times when I don’t feel like being honest. This is one of those times because honestly, I’m having a hard time finding the grace and the beauty right now. I’m sure it will return one of these days but for right now, the truth is that I am angry and bitter and hurting. And sometimes, I think we have to remind ourselves that this is okay too.