It would be nice if the grief journey were over, wouldn’t it? Sadly, this is not the case. In many ways, it is just getting going. We all survived the Easter holiday but it was not the same without our Radish. MCVWasHere and I managed to grill a butterflied leg of lamb, thereby making our mother proud from her heavenly perch. I am pretty sure we screwed it up but it was tasty nonetheless. Severe holiday let down set in on Monday with family returning to The Other Coast. After the shock has worn off, the active MISSING phase begins ninety days in. Man, would Grandmere have delighted in the peas, carrots, and Easter Egg hunt …
Perhaps to prep me for this, a galaxy of friends sent me a gift every day. EVERY DAY OF HOLY WEEK I RECEIVED A GIFT. Surprise! It was not Christmas but it sure felt like it. And to think that this was not coordinated by friends, only two of whom know each other.
On Monday, a box arrived with four wrapped gifts and a note from one of my DF Chicks, MLD, a needlepointing and reading maven. She was also my Heart Surgery Coach. Thinking I would need these gifts later, I hoarded them for Sunday. I confess to feeling through the paper – they felt like books.
On Tuesday, a flat package arrived from Martita, another DF Chick, and Thing 3’s godmother. This I ripped open, thinking it was an Easter card. Instead, it was gorgeous watercolor painting of a bunch of radishes, an article on them, and a long lovely letter of a personal nature on what grief for one’s mother looks like after twenty years. I never met Martita’s mother but I still quote her: “If they [gossips] are talking about you, that means they are giving some other poor soul a rest.” Although Martita and MLD are good friends, I do not think these gifts were a coordinated effort. My sister MCVWasHere also gave me a Glassybaby, a pink “goodness” votive for my burgeoning Radish altar. This was not actually a gift – it was for winning a round of the High Stakes License Plate Game – but since I’d forgotten about it, it still counts!
When Wednesday rolled around, I opened a package from Amazon, thinking Mr. Understanding had ordered yet another guitar instruction video. But lo and behold, it was another book, this one a gift from Ms. Broccoli. Called Designing Your Life – How to Build a Well-Loved, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, it is a Stanford University design class on how to create a life you actually enjoy living, the perfect gift for a family in flux. Think “encore career”, or for me, middle aged starter career.
After three amazing gifts in three consecutive days, it dawned on me that the Universe was sending me a big fat message of LOVE.
But wait! There’s more! It’s almost embarrassing. Almost. I am just trying to make a point here. Wait for it.
On Thursday, MCV handed me and my father each a gift from her college friend, Michelle. This one makes me cry when writing about it – a beautiful compilation of Sally’s musings, photos, and recipes from her blog CookSallyCook.com. Curated and organized with a table of contents, I was awestruck by this gift. Michelle and Sally had bonded over the ancient grain einkorn. Who knew??? An heirloom, both the grain and the book. Earlier in the day a Jackson & Perkins bulb garden arrived from Dr. Skin. Bloom where you are planted.
Moving on to Good Friday: a hand knitted, lacy, rainbow pastel prayer shawl from MoodRingMomma. I do not know how my sister had the mental band width to create such an intricate gift. I had been using a prayer shawl of Sally’s given to her by the women of the church. It was toasty warm but I confess to finding the colors not to my liking, even thoughI did get in the habit of putting it on. Another heart wrenching heirloom, imbued with tears.
On Saturday, MCV gave me a blue Glassybaby cocktail drinker (“splash”), another premio for winning a second round of The High Stakes License Plate game. My in-laws sent a bento box tower of nuts, which I put in Mr. Understanding’s Easter Basket. Mine, as you can see, was full.
On Easter Sunday, MCV returned to my Children’s Bible Stories, given to me and inscribed by my Grandmarie on Easter, 1971. She also gave me Anne Lamott’s latest and greatest book Hallelujah Anyway.
On Monday, feeling bereft (which is just pitiful), I opened all of MLD’s gifts: semi-cerebral brain candy* and a Mexican angel ornament that doubles as a nativity scene which went directly to the makeshift altar. In the middle of my pity party, I took a nap and while I was dozing, the postman delivered a box of gifts from KT: a key chain with Phillippians 4:4 on it (REJOICE!), a new CD by Olivia Newton John and friends called Liv On, some paper goods from Magnolia, and a favorite hymn printed on pink paper. I actually knew the words.
I still cannot believe it. Can you?
And then today: a signed contract for the sale of our house in Ohio. Cranky me, it seemed like another loss, the closing of yet another chapter. Punto final. Until Thing 2 said to me, “What if it’s an Easter gift?” Indeed. He did not know about all of the other ones …
So what do you think the cosmic message is, sent by a phalanx of Easter angels? Here is my best guess: READ. FEED YOUR SOUL. High brow, low brow, non-fiction, fiction, the Bible in adult and children’s versions. Go to the beach and design your life. Plant seeds. Eat ancient grains and nuts. Drink a cocktail out of a handcrafted colored glass and savor it. Light a candle. Say a prayer for your friends and for the world; wear an heirloom made with love while you do it. SING! OUT LOUD! Frame all those extraordinary radishes and hang them where you can see them every day. Have mercy on dear Anne Lamott and make your peace with her – she’d meet you at the beach and chat with you about Jesus. Miss your mother fiercely but remember she is in The Best Place, hanging out with the Mother of all Mothers, REJOICING. She sent a cadre of love language speaking friends and family to remind you of the power of Resurrection, the unlikely gift of an empty tomb.
*MLD’s book choices to lighten the heart of the Expat Princess:
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen