Easter’s Death Springs Renewal

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My dad is Lutheran, my mom is Jewish. My childhood exposed me to traditions from both denominations, but I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as religious.

Spiritual, yes.

Religious, no.

In fact, if there is a god, I’m still pretty pissed off at him.

Today, though, I can’t help but contemplate the religious meaning in both Easter and Passover.

Seven years ago, on Easter Sunday, my husband, Erik, and I admired our 17-month-old daughter, Tatiana, as she carefully grasped purple and pink polka-dotted eggs in the grass.

“Do you think about how lucky we are,” I said to Erik.

He rubbed my ripe, pregnant belly. “Yeah, I think about it at least five times a day.”

Erik was a rising-star manager for Lucas Digital and I had photographed over two-thousand Northern California families through my children’s photography business. We were both 29, both excited to be only two months away from the birth of our second daughter, Keira.

Fortunately, our marriage had reached the point in which laughter, or the playful flick of a middle finger, could end most conflicts.

That Easter Sunday, right after our casual family dinner, Erik kissed all over Tatiana’s round, olive cheeks. “Who’s my itty bitty ditty bug?”

She kicked her legs, in her lime-green high-chair, squealing with delight, “Da-Da!”

And then the delight vanished. Laughter silenced itself, as we watched Erik slide down the kitchen counter.

Are you kidding me?

He lay motionless on the cold, white-tiled kitchen floor.

“Erik, get up.”

Then I noticed the blood. A line of blood trickling down his mouth.

This can’t be happening.

“Don’t worry, Tatiana. Da-da’s going to be okay.”

But he wasn’t okay.

No, Erik did not rise like the stories of Jesus. Nor did Erik’s blood mark him to be passed over.

Erik was dead.

Just like that.

So, here it is, seven years later, and this scene has hammered my mind like an incessant woodpecker. Again and again, I have let grief’s beak rip open my forehead, in order to make sense of things.

But this Easter morning is different.

This Easter, Tatiana and Keira, now 8 and 6, have an older brother and a new baby brother. This year, we are all blessed by Evan, my new Match.com husband, who adopted the girls two years ago.

And this year, Easter just so happens to be April 4th, the day before Evan’s April 5th birthday.

What does this mean?

I used to think that Erik’s death on Easter Sunday simply packed my anger with more ammunition, but now I have deeper understanding.

Like these two dates, death and life sleep side by side.

Because of my sadness, my joy is now amplified. Because I have witnessed death, I know to celebrate life.

Now, as Evan and I help our four children decorate their Easter eggs, I feel the renewal in Spring.


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