Spring has always been my favorite season, and Easter my favorite holiday. At Easter we celebrate the incredible love God showed us in leaving heaven to enter this broken world and die on the cross, defeating sin and death. This resurrection of life is mirrored in the rebirth of nature we see in the spring. The darkness of winter fades away as new life is reborn. Light returns with longer days and sunshine warms the skin and the soul.
Spring is now the season in which my daughter died. She didn’t get to see the buds opening on the trees, the grass turning green, and flowers coming forth. Spring felt like nature’s way of mocking me in my grief last year. It didn’t seem right or natural that life was blooming everywhere and going on without her. Death had come to our home, destroying the treasure of our hearts, our precious child, and overshadowing our lives with it’s mighty wings of horror and darkness. The intense shock and horror have faded somewhat over the past year, giving way to a depressed acceptance of our situation. I hope that each spring will be less painful. But I know that the innocence and simple pleasure I felt each spring has been lost to something different, something deeper.
We celebrated Easter last year with a quick trip to Yellowstone Park, followed by Easter Sunday at church and family gatherings. That Easter service was Fiona’s last time in church. The following Sunday, she entered heaven’s gates. Above is the last photo I have of my three girls together, in our church foyer on Easter. Fiona chose the dress, sweater and some brown leather sandals just a few days beforehand. She wore them once, on Easter. The gold earrings she was still wearing when she died.
I still have Fiona’s Easter basket from last year. Much of the candy she hadn’t finished eating. A chocolate bunny with just it’s ears nibbled away sits in the basket along with other goodies she hadn’t gotten to yet. It’s hard to know what to do with all of the things she owned during this life. In a way, it’s all we have left of her beside the memories that I fear will fade away. But I do have hope that I will see her again someday.
It seems to me that perhaps God orchestrated Fiona’s life on earth to coincide with Jesus’ time on earth, to be a comfort to me in my grief by directing my focus on Him, my true source of comfort. Although death was never His plan for any of us, our days on earth are appointed and known only to Him. Fiona was born in the Christmas season, a reminder of the special gift she was to us. She was a gift given out of love, as are all children. I realize now that we do not deserve or own our children, they are a gift and a blessing. If I view Fiona’s life as a gift, this helps me to be thankful for the short time we had with her, instead of being stuck feeling that I have been cheated.
Her death in the Easter season reminds me that despite her physical death, Fiona has not ceased to be. She is alive right now in a paradise we can only dream of, and I doubt she would want to return to her old life here on earth. This life is not the end because of Jesus’ work on the cross. He defeated death and we have hope that we will be with her after our time here is done.
Easter also reminds me that as Jesus came down from heaven not to do his will but to do the will of his Father, so also must I give up my will for this life. My plan of raising Fiona is something I have to let go of, as God himself has now undertaken that work as her heavenly Father. My hopes for a future with Fiona I must give up into His hands. My dreams to see her finish grade school, become a teenager, then a young woman, to marry and have children, and bring me joy in my old age will never come to be. I have to create a different life for myself and my family than what I planned, wanted or expected. This obviously is an extremely painful, difficult thing to do. While Jesus came to do his Father’s will in dying on the cross and bearing the sins of the world, it was nevertheless painful for him. He prayed for the suffering of the cross to be taken from him; he was in anguish, sweating blood while he prayed. He asked the disciples to stay with him and pray, but they all failed him and fell asleep. An angel from heaven came down to strengthen him while he prayed. How even more do I need strength beyond my own ability to be able to endure this suffering and find a new way to live with loss.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea; “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55-57