We didn’t do anything special for Easter this year. Everybody’s at work this weekend, except for me... I’m just ill, impatiently enduring the nasty side effects of a drug that’s meant to make me feel so much better about life in general.
I did take the time to read a few chapters out of the Gospels with the kids. I was pleasantly surprised that they already knew most of it, meaning that apparently they’ve been paying attention on those once or twice monthly visits to church. But when I read anything to them, we take the time to discuss it. On Friday night, we talked about politics and power, and mob mentality, and bravery. Heavy stuff for a 13 yr old and an 11 yr old, but they’re smart and sensitive kids. I admit that I’ve sheltered them for most of their lives, but to balance it out, I haven’t sugar coated much of what they are exposed to.
I used to hate Good Friday. It was like the same funeral every darn year. Easter Sunday was all joy and happiness and a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
But before the beautiful triumph, there has to be ugliness and defeat.
It has to get worse before it can get better.
Everything does, and I’ve known that for a long time. Before the horses have their sleek summer shine, flurries of dirty winter hair have to come off, and I end up with accidental mouthfuls of horse hair. Before the truck is painted, all the rust has to be sandblasted and the metal covered in bondo and primer, and it’s ugly. Before the basement can be a comfortable living space, there is noisy, traumatic construction.
Before I feel the positive effects of the anti-depressant, I have to go through two weeks of feeling sick and miserable.
Before the beauty of spring takes hold, we have to suffer through a few more weeks of melting manure piles and dog poop in the back yard, and muddy hooves, and slush and dirty rubber boots. Before we get beauty, we have to endure more ugliness.
Today, the sun is shining, and outside my window there is still a two foot high snowbank. The March snow is not the sparkling pretty December snow; it has the strata of an entire winter of road sand and salt, melted and refrozen, granular and dirty. Where it’s melted away enough, the grass sticks out brown and slimy.
Everybody else says that the longer days and more sunshine makes them feel better. I don’t. Everybody wants to talk about how wonderful spring is. I don’t think it’s wonderful. Not now, not yet.
Spring is an awful time for me. Every year the depression takes hold. I never used to acknowledge it but now I know it’s real. While everybody else jumps for joy over the melting snow and the promise of green grass and flowers, I feel gloomy and joyless.
Spring is ugly. Spring is death and life converging. Religion can be ugly. But in time, spring turns beautiful. It’s such a long wait, but months later there’s a reward. Religion can be beautiful too. After the ugliness of death, there’s brilliant hope. There’s life.
Easter brings out the full range of emotions and feelings for me, and this year more than ever I feel the change and the pain. I’m trying to believe that if I get through the pain, there is hope.
I’ve learned as a writer that conflict and ugliness are necessary. The happy ending doesn’t have any impact without it. A story is not interesting unless there’s something to triumph over. That’s not just fiction- that’s life.
I’m learning this as I sit here with a sick stomach and a dizzy head and the assurance that in a little over a week, these drugs will settle into my system and I won’t feel so awful. I’m praying for optimism. I’m counting on it.
I pray for misery and pain to turn into peace and happiness. I have to have faith that it will come, just like every year, the grass turns green and the world will appear to come back to life.