Death Hasn’t the Last Word

“Just go now,” my love says. “One fifth of your attention is for her anyway.” A little surprised, I pack my bag to cycle to the grave again, it has been a while. “You have to keep space,” he added. Usually I say that to him.

So there I cycle again. On my way to my youngest daughter on Holy Saturday. Tomorrow it is Easter. I think back to Easter over the past three years. In 2016 I was at the lowest point of my burnout. My sister had received some terrible news, I just didn’t recover and one of our children was having a terrible time. That Easter morning I literally, audibly, cried out to God for the first time.

A year later I had lost my baby and couldn’t grasp the depth of grief. “It clings around me like an iron prison,” I read in my diary. Easter, that tells of the resurrection of the dead, got new meanings to me. The following year I sang the song I wrote about lately. I began to understand what hope really is. At Easter 2019 I had just finished my book about the Bible book Daniel and learned so much in that process. I began to regain confidence in God and life. I saw more and more clearly that Easter means hope for a future here on earth, or after this life.

Tomorrow is Easter again. Just like Mary then, I walk to the grave of my much-desired and beloved child whom my heart still yearns for. I imagine Mary approaching the gardener. She wants to take care of a body, but the body appears to be gone. She cannot show her love and care and loyalty. I can feel how panic must have set in. The “gardener” mentions her name, shocking Maria’s worldview:

Death.
Has.
Not.
The.
Last.
Word.

Is My Son Jesus Risen? Suddenly she remembers everything he explained for the past three years. She runs back to the others and is the first to tell what has been repeated and rediscovered for centuries since then: the Lord has truly risen.

I walk on, the grave looks beautiful. Here the stone has not been rolled away. The pain of the loss still flares up unexpectedly mercilessly. In this lockdown time it is so much clearer that we are not complete, we are not all together. The girls paint their nails without a wandering toddler who also wants her toes as pink as possible. The boys build huts and Lego without anyone knocking it over. It is very busy in the house, reason why taking space was so difficult and I constantly pushed away feelings of pain and grief, with sadness and headaches as a result.

My love is right, one fifth of your attention and time is for her. Well, at least this hour on Holy Saturday. I cycle back, towards another Easter: This grave will not remain closed forever. There is hope. Jesus shows that death has been overcome. My child is safe although I miss her. I will see her again when I die myself. That again is a hope that is certain.

First published in Dutch on April 11, 2020

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