As I was just getting Easter outfits set out and prepared for this upcoming weekend, I was remembering back to just a handful of years ago when I was anticipating Easter. I remember how painful it was to pick out clothes for Gabriel ~ and nobody else. How he was my only one to dress up. He wasn’t a stairstep kid. He didn’t have siblings on earth. I couldn’t put bows on his sisters’ hair, because I can’t reach all the way up to heaven. I didn’t get to pick out matchy-matchy stuff for brothers, or even think about finding coordinating things. Sometimes he got to coordinate with his cousins (thanks to Grandmama’s excessively good taste and love of filling out the grandkids’ wardrobes), but sometimes that was more painful than fun for me.
Easter of 2011, I was raging with pregnancy hormones and new drugs, painfully aware that the baby in my womb may not survive to the next Easter. Going to church on Easter to celebrate resurrection almost made me feel like a fraud. I was stuck in death and waiting… it didn’t feel real to celebrate new life and resurrection. I went through the motions, but it felt fake. Forced. Habitual. I saw families at church with coordinated outfits. I saw little girls everywhere with bows and hats and patent shoes and purses and flowers and plastic bead necklaces.
I remember feeling like I was surrounded only by shattered dreams. And I remember that depth of anguish.
I simply can’t forget.
But here I am, just a few years later. And oh God, how merciful You are to me, a sinner… You saw fit to come down and lift my downtrodden state… You gave me stairsteps, and You even gave me a daughter. Oh God! I cry at the thought! Why would You do such merciful things for me?!
So today I cried as I laid out two little plaid shirts, grey pants, white bow ties and suspenders… and a poofy flowery dress, patent shoes, tiny tights, a big white bow… and my own THREE miracles, my little darlings I dreamed of but nearly despaired of ever holding in my arms… they will sit in the Easter service singing and praying and eating candy and shouting “He is risen, indeed!” in their matchy-matchy outfits, nearly stairstepped in size (Gabriel is like the landing on a set of stairs, haha).
And this mercy is not lost on me.
Nor is the pain that my joy could be causing someone else.
So I will pray for infertile women, suffering mothers, bereaved mamas, single women. I will pray for hurting hearts that will throb and bleed when they see my own little brood of Resurrection-Life children. They may not know what a miracle it is that I have been given this gift… but I know.
I simply can’t forget.
And so on Easter morning, I will look again at these miraculous children… these gifts of life that followed so much death and so much waiting… so much sitting-at-Christ’s-feet… so much crying to God why-have-You-forsaken-me… and I will feel mercifully, undeservedly, bountifully blessed. And I will shout with tears in my eyes as I think of all eleven of my beautiful children, “CHRIST IS RISEN!!! ALLELUIA!!!”
Christ came. He conquered. He lived. He died. He rose again. He gives us hope.
Hope even for a woman who is raging with hormones, dealing with awful drug side effects, grieving for a daughter I don’t get to hold again… hope that resurrection has happened, and it will happen again.
That’s what packing Easter outfits did to me today. It reminds me of broken dreams, and of dreams come true.
Death inevitably follows life, but for those of us in Christ, life follows death. Hosanna! Alleluia!