Let me tell you about the Great Easter Rescue of 2013.
I was about 8 months into the most uncomfortable pregnancy of my life – a pregnancy that had not been entirely intentional and had really thrown us for a loop. Leslie was unemployed; there was no steady income in the foreseeable future; we were about to lose our insurance, just days before my due date. We didn’t even know if we would be able to stay in our home, let alone our home town.
My anxiety levels were sky high, and the low-grade PPD I’d had ever since 2006, when our firstborn broke me open, had blossomed into full blown prenatal depression.
To be honest, I wasn’t feeling the least bit celebratory. Quite the opposite. I was pretty mad at the world and wanted to shut everything and everyone out. I needed a rescue.
I hadn’t even told the girls that it was Easter. They were ages 6 and 3, not in school yet, and while they knew Easter was coming at some point, their grasp on time wasn’t very concrete yet.
We were kind of limping through the morning, with this awful secret hanging over me: I was hiding Easter from my kids. This highest holy day of Christendom was one of my lowest parenting points. Then our neighbor popped his head over the fence and asked the girls if the Easter Bunny had visited.
“It’s EASTER??!!” screeched Sophia. “Why aren’t we celebrating today?”
And then, I cancelled Easter.
“I can’t do it,” I said. “I don’t have eggs or candy or anything. I just can’t. I’m so sorry.” And I cried.
Sophia, our sensitive one who crumbles under time constraints and can fall apart at a sideways look, is stupendous under certain types of pressure. She felt a crisis and found her role in it. I saw the wheels in her head begin to turn, and a light go on in her eyes.
“I can make an Easter Egg hunt!” she said. And off she went to plan a rescue.
She cobbled together “eggs” by painstakingly cutting out the cups of an old egg carton in the recycling bin. She filled them with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips from the pantry and pennies from her own piggy bank.
Then she taped them closed and hid them all over the yard. I guess she had to pretend she didn’t know where they were, so she could partake in the hunt with Alana, but that didn’t faze her. Both girls giggled and squealed with each discovery; soon their faces and hands were sticky with chocolate and marshmallows as they got down to the serious business of unloading their eggs.
I was so paralyzed with grief and shame that I couldn’t participate. I took a picture of the eggs Sophia had made, though, and a couple of my girls’ grubby little faces. I needed to make myself remember. It was the best worst Easter, ever.
The Easter of 2013 is what Easter is really about: Drowning in the darkness of desperation, grief, guilt, and shame. And then a light cracking through, and a small seed of hope breaking open a stony-sad heart. It’s about someone else doing the unbearably difficult work that you simply cannot face. It’s about grace and rescue; humility and hope.
We’ve had happier Easters in the two years since, but this is the memory that stays with me: the rescue and redemption of a very dark day.