Sunday, April 8, 2012

A heartbreaking but powerful Easter

Yesterday was Robert's birthday party, and today he was baptized. He wore the same gown his dad wore as a baby, even though Suzi fussed at us. ("He is a BOY. He needs to wear a SHIRT, not a dress! Am I clear?") The baptism, and being with our families, and the Easter music, it was all beautiful.

But then, as we stood on the playground after church, Megan and Jenn told me a friend of ours died last night in a car accident, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son. Utter shock. It made no sense to me. I didn't know her as well as I'd have liked to, but I loved her. We all did. Her family had already been through unbelievable heartache over the past couple of years. Right now, her husband is in the hospital undergoing chemo treatment for leukemia and waiting for a bone marrow transplant. He is isolated, five hours away, and can't even be with his children right now. My heart breaks for all of them.

We were chatting on Facebook just days ago. I kept telling myself that after this lonely winter, after I wasn't so afraid of passing germs to her family at such a vulnerable time, I'd invite her over for a playdate.

Last month she left me a message on Facebook:

also, i love you, thank you, and every picture of me since last summer has a flower in my hair. my gymnasts even commented on how they love that i dont wear barretts, only the prettiest flowers!

I made her some flowers recently. How glad I am now that I took the time to do that! She made me feel so good about my crafts, wore my flowers all the time with such enthusiasm. She was a bright spot. And perhaps more than anything, I looked up to her because she was so open and free-spirited. I recall several times hearing her say "I don't have a filter!" It was a good thing. I wish I could get rid of mine.

Lots of lessons today. If you love someone, go on and tell them. If you see an opportunity to help someone, make it your priority. Don't waste the time you have been given on things that will never matter.

Also, I've been trying to work out some confusion in my mind. I hear so many people talk about "God's plan," but I don't think God means for horrible things like this to happen. I'm pretty sure they usually happen because our collective free will has consequences for all and causes pain for those who do not deserve it. Our world is beautiful. There is so much good in it. But there are also things that are hard and cruel and make no sense, and we have to accept them both--knowing we can lose our good and beautiful gifts at any time. Once when I was a toddler, I crawled up inside a cabinet in the kitchen. It was a tight squeeze, a bad idea. My mom did not plan for me to do that. She said "Alright, Jenny. How do you plan on getting out of there?" I started crying. She got me out somehow. I think "God's plan" must refer to the never-ending work of bringing us through the tangled web we have woven for ourselves and others while helping us grow, find meaning, and find God.

After church, before I retreated to our van to cry over the loss of our friend, I listened as our minister's wife explained that just as Jesus' tomb was empty, so is hers. I can feel that this is true. There is no pain Heaven can't heal. No human mistake or problem that can't be redeemed. This Easter, I'm clinging harder than ever to that--for myself, my friends, my family, my newly baptized baby son.

I am still left with this song in my heart from this morning in church.

From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from his hand
Til he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand.