Wishing someone a good day or a nice holiday weekend seems innocuous enough most of the time...but as a new widow well meant wishes from family, friends or strangers struck me like arrows. How exactly am I supposed to have a good day? Why do I care about this holiday? Have you forgotten for a moment that my husband is dead? Some days I could accept the kind words for what they were, other days I lashed out at unsuspecting humans with no screen for the kind of pain I was in.
So today, at my own personal risk, I am going to wish those of you who celebrate this day a Happy Easter. Yes, you heard me right, Happy Easter.
I brave the horrid looks you would throw my way if you could see me to wish you a happy day because you deserve one. It took me a long time to come to that realization. Grief, sadness, loneliness, desperation...those were all easy emotions to embrace. In fact, I reveled in them. Happiness was not only banned from my heart, it was taboo, disloyal, impossible. Any hint of fun was tarnished by the idea that if I was feeling good I must be recovering from the experience of losing Phil, and in my mind any step towards the dreaded "stage of acceptance" was a teettering step on the slippery slope of forgetting the man I loved. So I avoided pleasant things, tortured myself with sharp memories often, and cried into my journal every night. All this misery I piled on top of the obvious and unavoidable fact that Phil was dead.
But love and gratitude snuck in and saved me. As time passed I came to see that I was still a very, very lucky girl. My husband was dead, but I have a beyond fabulous family. My husband wasn't coming home, but I have three amazing children. Phil would not be celebrating Easter with us, but my mom was still making homemade bread. The rest of my siblings leave holidays with their spouse by their side, but though I leave the party a single mom...I return to a home I love and get to keep. And the best surprise of all, when I allowed a little happiness into my life the brightness of the love I shared with Phil was not dimmed by my dark despair, instead I was reminded of the depth and constancy of a love that is mine forever. Not only did I not forget him, I loved him even more.
So, on this day of family fun, Easter egg hunts, giggling children, too much chocolate, and bittersweet moments associated with the empty spot at the family table...I wish you happiness. Don't be afraid, you won't forget.