Where I grew up, Easter Sunday was important. There was usually a new Easter dress and sometimes there were hats, but there was always an abundance of pastel-clad people. And green plastic tinsel grass inside bright cheery-colored Easter baskets with chocolate, Paas-dyed eggs and jelly beans.
Until this year, I didn't really have much experience with death. And it turns out, resurrection feels pastel-colored only if you don't know what it's like to go through some sort of death.
So this week I have been thinking lots about betrayal and death. I've been comforted by their inclusion in the Holy Week story. It's the three-word summary of my life since July: betrayal and death. I've lived through the death of my marriage, the death of what was my life, the death of innocence, and the death of my dreams for the future. I've crawled through hell, and vomit punctuated the journey. Trauma is deeply and surprisingly physical. It seemed like my body shut down for while from the shock of it all: eating and sleeping became almost impossible. Time stopped. But not my mind. It kept going, incessantly working to try to make sense out of what did not make any sense.
Eventually things seemed less horrendous. The pain was less exruciatingly raw. Or maybe I got used to it? I don't really know. I kept buying V8 from the corner store, and I survived on sandwiches. I dragged myself to work even though I did not want to get out of bed and face my life. I walked home crying more days than not. Two girlfriends came over on the day of my wedding anniversary, and we laughed and cried together. Friends and family carried me through those early months.
I learned how to get divorced. It about killed me, but I did it anyways. It was better than the alternative of staying married to my husband who had a girlfriend. There are things worse than divorce.
Six months after he left me, my ex moved his stuff out. It was one of the worst days of my life. But afterwards, I just kept walking around the empty-feeling apartment, looking around at all the places I no longer saw his stuff. It was then that I realized I could breathe deeper. I was no longer suffocating. It felt like this death would have an end-point somewhere.
Friends and family from the U.S. surrounded me for Christmas and New Year's. It was my first time to see them since my life exploded. I felt loved and taken care of. And the divorce judgement came, and it felt like freedom from the absolute depths of hell. January and February brought lots of snow and frigid temperatures and hope and disappointment.
For Valentine's Day, I paid someone to repaint my ex's former office. After the painter left, I went back into the office again and again to stare at the no-longer-ugly-green walls. I appreciated the blank spot where the huge ugly tree used to be painted. The emptiness is beautiful. Liberating. Painting is cheaper than therapy, I reminded myself.
Winter seemed interminable, but it also was a physical manifestation of the state of my heart. The snow-encased chrysalis felt right somehow. My winter had been going on since July, after all.
And I learned that snow sometimes glitters. The first night I saw the glitter snow, I knew that there was beauty even in this death, that I would be okay when I came through on the other side. I knew there was hope. And I knew I was not alone. And that was enough.
At last spring is here and it's Easter. Now I know in the depths of who I am that resurrection is a scorched phoenix rising up out of ashes and ruins. This is no flannelgraph story. It's a story of destruction and devastation and going through hell, determined to come out on the other side eventually. It's messy. My resurrection has left me burnt on the edges, with the sting of smoke still lingering. It seems to be much more of a beginning than a triumphant victory. This is an invitation to keep working towards rebirth and to receive it as gift....a participatory gift.
Betrayal and death do not get the last say, even though the wounds they leave are permanent. There is life beyond death, and the wounds become part of our story. I believe even death can be transformed, so I keep rebuilding and waiting.