Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | April 5, 2015

ghost of Easter baskets past

Easter 2015 is sunny, if not warm. Crocuses unfurl against the cold ground, birds sing and dart, and the cat rolls in the gravel driveway, his black fur absorbing the sun’s warmth. I made a pretty table and a good breakfast which included lovely fresh fruit, roasted potatoes, strong coffee, and a BACON latticed quiche. So there’s that, eh? Life is good. But holidays do have a way of reminding us what’s come, and what’s gone.  As a friend wrote: “I’d like to think this is the last year (after ten without E.) that I go without celebrating any and all major holidays from November to April. I’ve had enough of empty, sad, hurting. But, no matter what, April really is the cruelest month, as Eliot put it. Or maybe it’s November. Or December. Or January or February or March.”

from April 2010:

Sweetest Story Ever Told

 Long, long ago, on the Easter morning that our daughter was a year old, Jeff shook me awake hours before dawn. He urgently  whispered, “Easter basket for the baby! We don’t have anything for her!”
I murmured “Oh, well,” and turned over, went back to sleep. Jeff did not. He got up and went out into the cold dark world to search for goodies to make an Easter basket. This was in the days before 24 hour drugstores, and nothing in town was open. He ended up at LLBean, 20 minutes north of us, whose claim to fame is that they are always open. This was also in the days before Bean’s had candy, stuffed animals, and all sorts of tempting doodads mounded in bins and bowls by every register. The only thing he found for a one-year-old was a songbook and companion cassette of traditional music for children. He brought it home, rummaged around in the cellar until he found a suitable basket, and, since we had no candy in the house, also placed in the basket a single red pear from the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. The songbook and tape became a perennial favorite throughout Anna’s childhood, and every year since, especially this one, I make sure there is a red pear in her Easter basket.

from April 2012:

Easter Smackdown

Third April since.

I had not expected this. I rarely cry these days, and am not crying now. Today, a solitary gray Easter Sunday, instead of tears there is inside me a vast wasteland, a bereft, echoing emptiness that makes the drama and trauma of cleansing tears and gasping sobs seem like a nostalgic luxury.

Jeff is still gone, and he is still not coming back, not ever. Somehow not used to this concept yet, after all this time, all this resolute building of a new life without him. And although our child, the girl with his eyes and hands and smile, is a young woman now, the fabric of her life still has and always will have the gaping rift of No Father. Emptiness. Sadness. This hurts. A lot. And frankly I am just so tired of hurting.

I guess where this latest pity party came from is that I was going to make a little Easter basket for my College Girl. Was going to fill it with chocolate eggs and brightly colored silly doodads and a few useful things she meant to bring back to school that got left behind. My little plan was to put it all in a pretty basket and mail it so she’d get it at school on Good Friday. Then this week turned busy with much new work and somehow it slipped my mind, or maybe it’s just that I thought somehow I had more time.  (That old refrain – you’d think that is one lesson I would’ve learned already, but apparently not, since here it is again.)

Suddenly on Friday I realized I had missed a rare chance to be a mama to my big girl. I don’t get to do that much these days. I blew it. And that made me so sad, far sadder than one would think necessary from such a small oversight that no one even knew of but me.

Then on Saturday, I casually put a cd into the car stereo, of old familiar music that I love, that in no way reminds me of Jeff. In fact, the songs remind me of someone else entirely, from another whole lifetime ago. Safe, right? But suddenly that day I was stricken by the remembrance of us two, husband & wife shopping for gifts his last healthy Christmas, choosing that music for our girl. That memory hit me with no warning, at a traffic light in the car on the way to work, and whooosh, another massive flush of sinking spirits and inordinate sadness. And what am I supposed to do with this information, this bright new blossom of sadness? It is not helpful in any way. It just hurts. And I am Tired Of Hurting.

I know there’s more to it: silly minor personal stuff having to do with not meeting my own unreasonably high expectations. I’ve done enough work to figure out where this pain is coming from, and it’s not nowhere. But for once this self-knowledge is no consolation.

I guess also, I have been so happy of late with my new unexpected sweetheart and our laughter, tenderness, word games. Feeling so lucky in this new love has suddenly thrown my residual sadness, always there just beneath the surface, into stark contrast. I know the only option is to feel or not feel these emotions, and I’ll always choose feeling over numbness, but still….

People are talking, writing, about the holy lessons of Easter: mystery and love, acceptance and sacrifice, renewal, and what it all means. And for once it is just not working for me.  That is all. I am just full of Sad.

This too shall pass, they say.


Edna St. Vincent Millay


To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.

You can no longer quiet me with the redness

Of little leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.

The sun is hot on my neck as I observe

The spikes of the crocus.

The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.

But what does that signify?

Not only under ground are the brains of men

Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself

Is nothing,

An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,


Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.


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