What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.
– Kobayashi Issa, Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest
Last year was the first Easter we celebrated without my mother. In the past, when my son was a toddler, we drove down to San Diego to spend the weekend with David’s sister’s family and his parents. After my daughter was born, we took them to Folsom to spend the holiday with my sister’s family and my mother. We still went to Folsom last year, even though my nephew, who was a freshman in high school at the time, finally won out and no longer had to participate in Easter egg hunts and the interest within my kids was also waning.
After my mother’s passing, I told David that we needed to spend more time with his parents, who are in their early seventies. I am acutely aware that I didn’t spend enough time with my mother in the last few years, and I don’t want to repeat the same mistake. When the kids were babies and toddlers, I made many a weekend trip to Folsom, but all that changed when my son got involved in sports in the second grade – baseball and basketball. He has since given up basketball, but his baseball schedule used to be every weekend from February through mid-August. My daughter joined a soccer team last fall, and now our Saturdays in the falls and springs are spoken for.
This past Christmas, David and his siblings got his parents a surround sound entertainment system, which David and one of his brothers set up. David needed to finish up the job, so he had to come back after the holidays. By the time a weekend could be found, I was out of town on a business trip. But my daughter ran a temperature on the appointed weekend, and then had another virus the following weekend, which was when the rescheduled trip had been planned. We were all set to go two weekends ago, and then his father called to tell us a good friend of theirs had caught a secondary infection while in the hospital after contracting sepsis, following a procedure to eradicate a spot on his liver. He was not expected to make it through the weekend, and David’s parents thought it best if we didn’t come.
Their friend passed away that Saturday evening, and his funeral was set for the following Saturday. David’s dad was scheduled to eulogize his long-time friend. Our weekend was booked for my son’s first baseball tournament of the season. On the drive home from the games that Saturday afternoon, David’s brother called. David listened to the voicemail message when we got home: His parents had been hit by a car crossing the street at a four-way stop. The driver had stopped, but then proceeded to turn. He later told the police officer that the sun was in his eyes and he didn’t see them. My mother-in-law was knocked to the ground and thankfully only suffered bruises, but my father-in-law’s head cracked the car windshield. He had broken two vertebrae in his neck and his forehead was stitched up. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer a concussion.
We came that Sunday sans the kids, and we were going to come the following weekend, when he would be home from the hospital. We ended up coming Easter weekend, which seemed a better time to spend with them. Two of David’s brothers also came. It was a 24-hour visit, as we left after my son’s baseball practice and my daughter’s soccer game. It was a short visit, but we had a nice dinner and breakfast. The kids played a Mexican domino board game with their “noni,” their uncle’s girlfriend, and their dad. They weeded the backyard for their “noni,” which she paid them for their services. We watched a little bit of March madness, some Sharks hockey, and the original Pink Panther movie in surround sound.
At night, we watched an amazing lightning and thunderstorm play out from David’s parents’ bedroom window. It was quite a display of theatrics, which none of us has ever seen before, including David, who has seen his share of Tennessee thunderstorms. It made us realize how small we humans are against the force of Nature. It made us appreciate the power of Nature. Then we went to bed, and time flew by. Time flew by – It’s a cliché I find myself referencing with greater frequency. There is an equal sense of urgency that accompanies the acknowledgment, the inevitable.
It was a quiet Easter, but an important one. I’m glad the kids could share the holiday with their noni and papa and two of their uncles. Like spring, Easter is a time for renewal and rejuvenation, for being amazed by and grateful for life, which is the ideal response to the events of the past few weeks.