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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Bentley

The 8th First - Easter Week

Joni LOOOOOOOVED Easter. She was also very on top of the calendar. That second fact has made me realize how much I relied on her for simple things like appointments, kid concerts, and even things like Palm Sunday. I didn’t even realize it was Palm Sunday until our pastor said it in church! Guess it’s time to either pay more attention to our wall calendar or set some reminders for holidays!

The evening of Palm Sunday and the Monday following were tough days for me. Hard grief days. That Sunday was the first time Belinda sat with the family in church (she’d been to the early service on her own before). It was very natural having her there - so much so that I glossed over its significance in my mind to the point where, when Belinda asked how the service was for me, I answered based on what it was like to not have Joni there and how the experience registered with me. I didn’t mean to be insensitive AT ALL. What Belinda was asking was what the experience was like having her there with us - like I said, it was very natural so didn’t even hit my radar. (More on the outcome of that in another note.) What did strike me was the absence of Joni. Remember those holes I wrote about? Yeah. Found one!

So far, church has been a tear-fest for me. Every time we sing “Reckless Love”, I kinda lose it. This is because Joni was basically fluent in ASL (though she’d never claim that) and struggled with how to translate the word “reckless” into ASL because there’s no sign for that. The interpreter at church used the word “careless” because she also couldn’t think of anything, but that’s not how “reckless” is used in the song. She and I talked about it (because I love words) and she discussed it with the interpreter and her deaf friend. I don’t think they ever resolved it. But that’s the kind of person she was - how can she convey the power of an idea to someone who doesn’t necessarily have the words? And I think about that every time I hear that song.

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday were both different. I made it through both services without bawling my eyes out! Yay me! But there were moments of grieving - both sad and joyful. Missing her, but also remembering her love of the holiday and how much effort she put into decorating the house, making baskets for the kids, dyeing eggs, etc. And family pictures. She loved to take family pictures after service.

And so we did all of those things with the exception of decorating the house. Belinda offered to make baskets for the kids and at first I wasn’t sure, but in the end I said yes along with having her join us for Easter service. Remember my statement awhile ago - “pain now or pain later”? I decided that if there was going to be pain connected with having Belinda involved in Easter, it would be better to discover it and deal with it now. And it turns out it wasn’t that painful at all - she helped make the day the special day it deserved. She even bought flowers for the house - multicolored flowers for the kids and two carnations, one white and one pink, for Joni. That nearly pushed me into the “bawling” category. It was so tender and so thoughtful. She even went out and bought a pink sweater to match what the girls were wearing. And after service, we took family pictures.

It was a tad too early to bring her to my in-laws for Easter dinner. We all agreed that would feel a little weird. Plus I’m not sure that their first meeting should be on a holiday that held such significance for their daughter. So we gave that a pass this year. I don’t think every holiday is going to be like that this year, but who can say? I expected to be a wreck on Easter, but I wasn’t.

It was still hard. Seeing pictures of her around my house and my in-laws’ house that day was tough. Every time I see her picture, I long for her to walk in the door. Palm Sunday and the day after were hard, but the rest of the week along with Easter Sunday was not filled with unbearable days of bleakness. I wish I could say I knew what made the difference, but I just think that’s how grief is.

Thanks for reading.


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