I try to keep busy. When I'm busy, when I'm going from meeting to meeting, when I have back-to-back appointments, sometimes I look at the schedule and wish there was more free time.
But when I have a large block of free time as I had today, then I remember why keep busy.
When I am busy I don't have time to think about loss or grief or loneliness.
For weeks I have been looking forward to today. I had a really busy month at work, complicated by bronchial problems for the whole first half of April, and last week I put in almost double my regular hours.
I have been looking forward to having this day with no appointments and no obligations, when I can just sit in front of the computer and play computer games and watch TV and post on Daily Kos.
But now I'm having a little bit of sundowning. I was too busy and exhausted for it yesterday, but now I am getting nostalgic about Easter. I have only had one small meal today and I am hungry. Easter used to be an eating holiday.
I am remembering Easters past with big decorated baskets. Devouring chocolate bunnies and M&Ms even though I wasn't fond of chocolate. Picking through the jellybeans to find the good ones since I wasn't fond of jellybeans. I remember Sweet Tarts and candy I did enjoy. I remember eating hard-boiled eggs which I still love. And back then we had "Easter vacation", a whole week off from school. But I liked school, so that was something of a mixed blessing.
I remember my mommy making me an Easter basket, and putting my favorite things in it, and some of her favorite things as well. It only just occurred to me just now as I write this, that she put her favorite things in it that were not my favorite things so that she could eat them!
When I went away to school, and during my young adult years when I was living on my own, she would send me a little check at Easter time in a card with a note that said: "Make yourself an Easter basket, baby. Dye yourself some eggs and get some Easter candy." Just typing that makes me want to cry. I never got to see her at that time of year, and she was wishing she could make an Easter basket for me, but I was not there. Most of the times I was so broke that I would just put those checks in the bank and tell her I got Easter candy with it, or I would buy just a little bit of candy so as not to tell a total lie and spend the rest of the money on bills. "Who spends $20 on an Easter basket?" I thought to myself.
Now there's nobody to make an Easter basket for me, and I don't bother doing it for myself. I tried a few years to dye the eggs and buy candy and fill a little basket with plastic grass. I was in my 30s before I realized that part of the fun of Easter baskets is making one for somebody you love. And it took me forever to figure out that in creating baskets it was the company that mattered. That there's nothing particularly fun about dying eggs by yourself. There's nothing particularly fun about dying eggs at all unless the company is good. It was what we talked about while we dyed the eggs. It was the way we laughed together about the funny things we wrote on the eggs.
Does anybody remember dyeing eggs the old fashioned way? You could write messages on the egg with a clear wax crayon, and the dye would not stick where the wax was—you could not see the message until the egg was dyed. All these stickers and press on transfers and stuff was brand new when I was a child, and we never used any of it. We dyed eggs the old fashioned way, with food coloring and vinegar until PAAS came out with their dye kits and the little wire egg holder.
One year when I was very little—about 5 or 6, I think, I was trying to write HELLO on an egg and having some trouble. The letter "O" did not come out well—I guess I did not press down hard enough on the crayon. Anyway, when the egg came out of the dye it said HELL. This was 50 years ago, when "hell" was not a word people said in polite company, but I didn't even know it was considered a curse word--I had only heard it in church contexts. The adults all thought it was hilarious and I was not exactly sure what was so funny. Now it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Tears of laughter, and irony, and nostalgia. It was Easter, and the littlest child had created the HELL egg!
I've had trouble with other holidays since mom died, especially the obvious family holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's. Not just because of family memories but because of bad milestone events in mom's illness that occurred around each of those holidays. But I don't remember having any trouble with Easter until last year, when mom's birthday fell on Easter. It was the first time her birthday fell on Easter since she died, and the first time I could even remember her birthday falling on Easter, although obviously it must have happened many times before. Maybe that is why I am having a bad spell today. I don't know.
I wrote a few months ago about how I was trying to uncouple all other bad feelings from grief and realize that not all loneliness is grief not all pain is grief not all anxiety is grief and try to separate out what feelings are really grief and what feelings are just part of what it means to be an adult living a complicated life. But today things do seem a little jumbled up again.
I did have a few mini peanut butter cups yesterday. That was more than enough Easter candy for me. I didn't boil any eggs this year, but I had scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday and today.
Some of this is longing for my childhood home, and the family dinners we used to have. Easter would be a feast occasion for three kinds of meat (ham, turkey and beef) and five kinds of starch (mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, corn pudding, stuffing, and dinner rolls). Green beans might make a token appearance for a semblance of healthy variety. Even more than the food I miss the company. The house full of people. The bursts of raucous laughter and the fast flying political arguments.
This is one of those days when it's hard to uncouple. I miss those few happy years of my childhood. I miss my childhood home. I miss the way Easter used to be. I miss so many things that used to be that are no more. I miss my mommy.
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