Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter without Cara

I resigned to myself today that this is never going to get easier. I should have known this. I've heard other parents at Compassionate Friends share how the second year is harder than the first. But for whatever reason, it was just in my head that the second year would be easier. I guess society feeds us this lie. That "one year" is a magical date that erases all grief. This could be no further from the truth. Sure, the raw grief of a life without your child subsides after a year. But the reality of a life without your child is a constant grief, one that never goes away. And why should it? Grief is an expression of love, and Cynthia and I will always love Cara so our grief will never go away.

At different points throughout the day today, Cynthia and I both found ourselves angry that Cara's gone. Angry at the circumstances. Angry that her death still doesn't make any sense. Angry that we can't experience getting ready for Easter as a family this year.

We spent some time at the grave this afternoon, reflecting on Holy Saturday. Last year, on Holy Saturday we were saying our final goodbyes to Cara with family and friends at her funeral.

From Pastor G's Homily at Cara's funeral...

Two words keep reverberating through the events of this week. Two emotions, two feelings, two states of being that are polar opposites in the experiences of life, and yet have been crammed together in our guts since Monday. Two words, two feelings, two states of being. Empty and full. Empty and full. These two oxy-moronic emotions have come clashing together this week, and in wake of the wreckage that their coming together brings, everything seems misplaced. Places, emotions, things that are supposed to be full are left simply empty. Emotions, and actions, and corners of our hearts that are supposed to be empty and carefree this week are now full and heavy. Since Monday, when our worlds started spinning and everything began to come undone, the earth shook beneath our feet and the two feelings switched places. The empty places became full, and the full places became empty...

And here we stand today, on Holy Saturday. Our earth shaken, the empty places full and the full places empty. Here we are, next to a grave, with Cara, our child, and Jesus, God’s child, filling spaces that they were not supposed to fill.

A year later, we sat there trying to make some sense of it all. Trying to get our heads around the fact that Cara's body is resting in this grave, but that her spirit is fully alive in the Resurrection.

Cynthia and I talked about how sometimes it's hard to feel like Cara's spirit is alive. I told Cynthia that I think that's OK and that it might be hard to sense that all the time. Moments like that are special and intended to be treasured. I wish they could happen all the time, but I don't think this broken world lends itself to that. But, I can say that over this past year we have had certain "divine moments" which are indescribable gifts. We've also felt that Cara was close to us when working in her memorial garden, lighting a candle for her at the dinner table, or hearing someone tell us how much Cara has meant to them.

Cara's spirit is alive. She is fully alive, dwelling in a place of perfect wholeness and peace. I believe this with all my heart. I believe that Cara is alive and in communion with the risen Christ and all the saints...

From Pastor G's Homily at Cara's funeral...

And yet, the week does not end here. Good Friday, or last Monday, is not the final earthquake. The collision between fullness and emptiness does not end in the grave. Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, the earth shook again. The grave was emptied and the dead One was filled with life. Jesus, resurrected, filled to the brim with life, met his disciples and filled them with joy, hope, peace and faith. He met them, this risen one, and in so doing, emptied them of their grief and filled them with an eternal hope that is so strong that even the grave cannot hold it. There is no place, now, not even the depths of the grave, that we can go that God’s presence is not there, filling us with the promise of life.

God refuses to be separated from God’s children, by life or death or anything in between. Since that first Holy Saturday, God has been combing the graves, gathering God’s beloved into God’s very self. And so, on Monday, when Cara’s heart stopped beating, God’s heart was the first one to begin breaking. As soon as Cara slipped away from us, God slipped near to Cara; near enough to catch her, hold her. God refuses to be separated from Cara, or from us, grave and death be damned. So God sent his beloved child, Jesus, to go ahead of Cara, our beloved child, so that where Jesus is, there Cara might be also.

It is into the hands of this One, Jesus Christ, that we commend our beloved Cara. Shaken, emptied, filled, we cry out to God. And as we do, God, divinely shaken, emptied, filled cries out to us. And in that earth shaking, death shaking cry of God, there lies a promise. A promise that neither death nor life, height nor depth, nor anything in this world will ever separate us from his love for us, his beloved children.

We now await that final shaking of the earth, when we, along with Cara and all the saints who have gone on before us will find ourselves emptied of grief and death and filled with joy, peace and life.

Come, Lord Jesus, shake our grief and fill us with your love. Amen.


Carly Marie said...

Amen indeed Tim.

Beautiful post, I love coming here to visit. I am sorry that I only come to read in clumps at a time.

Cara's place here honours her beautifully - what wonderful parents she has.


Leslie Parkins said...

Cara has been in my heart this season of Lent and Easter, thank you for sharing your journey (as it continues and always will) and for sharing the words of the homily from Cara's funeral. Where Jesus is, there Cara may be also.

4 Lettre Words said...

Praying for you in Georgia...