April 11, 2010

I didn’t go to church this Easter, didn’t listen to a volunteer brass section playing “Jesus Christ Has Ris’n Today,” didn’t sing hymns or sit with my parents in a building filled with happy Lutherans, people who know there’s a resurrection and a heaven and consolation.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever do those things or feel anything close to those things again.  It’s okay if I don’t, but I miss that possibly dead part of me quite a lot some days.

We almost refused to have Teddy baptized, and if my mother hadn’t been with us to want it so very badly, if N’s father hadn’t been there to do it, we may have missed out on what turned into a meaningful and beautiful moment with Teddy & our family.  I still miss God, but I can’t reconcile his/her existence as I once thought of it – caring, involved, sympathetic, personal – to the death and pain in this world, to the fact that babies die, to the fact that my baby may have felt pain and confusion before he died.  Boring old “problem of evil” Philosophy 101 stuff resurfacing, really.  I think I wrote a short paper on it in college.

N, who is a real philosopher, has been dealing with all of this, too.  I don’t write about him here often because I try to be protective of his privacy, but one of the down sides to our educations, and to his especially, is the inability to be comforted with ideas that seem to comfort many other people.  He works hard to be strong for me, to be strong in general, but sometimes I see him grappling with his grief, with the lack of comfort, and while I hurt for him, I also feel less alone in my own grappling.  I’m lucky and unlucky that way.

My parents were here over the Easter weekend, to see the baby and help us out for a few days.  At Easter brunch, we talked about Teddy, and N talked about how much he misses him, how Dot reminds him of what he’s missing, of how, if there’s a heaven, it is a place where he gets to watch his son grow up.  He choked up, and suddenly there is was, GRIEF, sitting at our table, dimming the glow of the bunch of daffodils Mom brought me to mark the holiday.  And my heart broke, all over again, for N., who hardly ever talks about his grief, and for Dot, who’ll never know her big brother, and for all of us with holes in our hearts that cannot be filled.  And because it was Easter, I wondered why and why and why all over again.  The whole apple of knowledge story just doesn’t explain it for me.

If there’s a good answer to the problem of evil, we haven’t found it yet, and since I live with an expert, well, I doubt there’s a good answer out there or he would have shared it with me.  Sometimes I get the words, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something,” stuck in my head.  Which is sad because there are so many funnier and more quotable lines in The Princess Bride that I never thought I’d be stuck with this one.

And then Dot smiles.  And my heart melts and oozes onto my shoes – a golden puddle of love.  And I realize that life isn’t pain, at least not all of it.  At least not all the time.  I still think so often of the smiles I’ll never see, of the much-loved boy who’ll never spend an Easter with his grandparents, or join us on a walk in the park on a breezy April day, who never got to keep us up late at night.  My boy, who never looked into my eyes to see my heart breaking as he slipped away.

My heart is a broken, melted, gooey mess.

Incidentally, what Princess Bride quote would you like to be stuck with?



  1. I’m a bit of a gooey mess after reading this post.
    Beautiful, Erica. Wish both your children were here with you this Easter and every day.

  2. Erica. I could have written this post. Eighteen months out, my husband and I still don’t know how to reconcile our faith with our daughter’s death. I found Easter services excruciatingly hard. And yet, I want to be able to entrust my living children to a protection bigger than my own. I want to pray a blessing for Toby at bed time the way I used to with my older ones.

    Oh and quotes. My sister and I always used to yell this at each other: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Dunno why, it just tickled us.

    But these days, this one works: “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”

  3. Oh Erica, the apple of knowledge story isn’t cutting it for me these days either.

    I don’t know which quote I would like to be stuck with but I know the one I’ve got! The part where Inigo Montoya and the man in black are fighting and first one, then the other, reveals that they are not, in fact, left-handed. Don’t know why. Perhaps because it reminds of those sudden reversals of fortune that life seems to chuck at us all.

    I like Jill’s quote. I don’t think that death can stop true love. Not in any way that matters. Heaven or none. x

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