I didn’t know if I’d take the photo or not. I didn’t know if I wanted a family Easter picture that Kevin wasn’t in. To see the empty space…
My girl woke up before the crack of dawn – the allure of a mega Easter egg and a basket of goodies too much to keep her in bed until a reasonable hour. I shuffled behind her in the dark as she raced from clue to clue, accumulating her Easter surprises. We ate a candy breakfast and dressed for church and I consciously reached for a pink sweater to coordinate with her new dress and jacket.
I hadn’t decided yet, but just in case…
We sang together, standing alone in the packed pew. Her clear, high voice rang out, joy on her face and Hallelujah on her lips.
“Where, o death, is now thy sting?”
The words hurt and the tears stung my eyes. Easter followed a little too closely on the heels of a hard week. I’m not ready yet to taunt death. I haven’t had enough time, though all I’ve for the last year, it seems, is time. Time to miss him. Time to cry out for him to come back. Too much time.
We prayed and greeted and my mind wandered as we sat and the choir sang an unfamiliar song. But suddenly, a phrase penetrated my thoughts. And I turned the words over in my mind, then scrambled for a paper and pen to write them down because I remembered that after dying comes life. How else could these lyrics, these words, be true?
“What other heart would let itself be broken every time ‘til He healed mine?”
I stared at the words. The threads of love stretching from that empty tomb wove in and out and began to stitch back together some of the gashes in my heart. Life is still in every beat.
Sunday School. Family dinner. Egg hunt with the cousins. Crack open the gaily colored plastic shells and candy spilled over the folds of her pink striped dress.
Happiness shone on my girl’s face because she understands it. Life goes on. We have the promise of heaven, and life goes on. Joy and hope and laughter and goodness and God caring for us and candy and celebration – it’s all still there, if I can just hang tight to that promise.
I’m not there. Not yet. Not all the way. It’s not easy to keep going. The year has been so hard, and I miss him so much. Life feels empty.
But I looked at her face, so open and smiling and her Kevin-blue eyes shine at me, partly because she’s hopped up on sugar and partly because she’s so full of delight that she glows.
I decided to do it.
“Hey, Beary! How about one family photo?”
I grabbed the tripod and went through the familiar motions of positioning it in the front garden. She sat patiently on the bench, waiting for me to set the timer and dash in beside her. We counted down – an Easter routine so familiar I didn’t have to remind her. Three. Two. One. Smile. If it doesn’t quite reach my eyes this year, that’s okay. Just hold to the promise.
I slid the camera card into my laptop to see the photo. An ache spread across my heart because Kevin’s supposed to be in this photo. And he’s not.
But then I saw it. In the background behind my girl’s sunny grin.
Strategically positioned, posing for the family photo, with the grace and haughtiness only a cat can pull off.
He totally photobombed us.
I laughed out loud.
Well played, Kev! Good one. Your cat made me smile today, and I didn’t think I would. Thank you, my love, for that bit of heavenly humor, for reminding me that you’re always, always here. Your death still stings. It’s a part of life I’ll never get used to. But a song and a photobombing cat reminded me: Death doesn’t win…love does. I can laugh and I can cry and it’s okay to live with a broken heart. I love you, Kevster. Happy Easter.