Friday, April 4, 2014

unbind him, and let him go

april finally got here. though on sunday, march seemed to tug hard at winter, come monday the sun came out and by tuesday, there was no foolin', none at all, because the birds woke up with cackling spirits, singing so loud about this new warmth that on our morning walk, we almost asked them to tone it down. 

but we didn't. 

everyone around me —neighbors, family, co-workers, birds, dogs, even strangers on the street looked up at the blue sky and said, well, thank heaven it's april. finally. 

now we take our meals outside and drive home with the windows down, drinking in the warm air deep and quick because soon the pollen will kick in and we'll have to shut the windows again.

april. a good month for me historically. the month of birthdays: my mother's— a birthday shared by a dear, lifelong friend and a godchild — a day that always meant Mama'd get a new azalea for the yard from her children and a bouquet of yellow roses from my father. april meant meeting Lydia on the back road to ride our bikes to school in the bright morning. it meant spring cleaning, when i'd come home from school to find my hair brush and comb soaking in ammonia in the bathroom sink and all my winter clothes put away, my spring dresses hanging crisp and pressed in my closet.

April in college: i was tapped on my mother's birthday to edit the school literary magazine. (it was the best birthday present i gave her, ever.) my first child began life one april day. it's the month of my grandfather's birthday.

last year April took on a different meaning for me. a sadness that it's taken me just about a year to shake. but i can feel myself unbinding, if only a little bit.

my siblings and i have traded emails today. routine things when you're dealing with estates and mothers and whatnot. when i looked at the calendar, i could not help thinking of this same day last year, when our lives took a tumble (my mother a literal one, breaking her femur in Daddy's hospital room.) i wrote about it here and here.

i'm blessed to have the mother i do. in this year we have all marveled, because she is all about April. Just watching her deal — with my father's illness and death, her broken leg and weeks in a wheel chair. in the weeks after Daddy died, when i visited her, each day brought progress. she got up out of the wheelchair. walked with a walker, then a cane. caring for herself. climbing stairs. set up a new home, drove herself, engaged life again. 

so we are celebrating with a party, not a birthday party (though it will be on her birthday), but a spring celebration. we've invited her friends from home to visit, to share a little lunch and see her new house. now when we talk on the phone, planning, her voice is bright, expectant, unbound.

i started a new Bible study this week. I am not one for sitting down quietly and talking out loud about God, but there you have it. there is a long-standing joke that Episcopalians don't actually read the Bible. but i have found when two or there of us gather we actually do know the Bible pretty well. our Book of Common Prayer is filled with it, as is our Hymnal

my friends and i met in the early morning before work and spent a few minutes with Lazarus, which is the gospel for Sunday, and well, we found that apparently, there is a lot in our lives to resurrect. 

by the end of the hour, we were all weepy — just like Jesus in the story — considering the hope offered in this ancient tale. we each had different reactions to it, but the Lazarus story reminded me of that holy day last April when we gathered around my father to say goodbye. only i don't think i did, fully. 

but it's time. 

yes, april finally got here, and it seems to me now, the whole month is all about unbinding —  everything from peonies to people, opening up, letting the light in after a winter that seemed to offer little. 

in the past few days i have been thinking of little except my father. the tone of his voice, his grin, all the times i have wanted to call him up and ask him something medical. my family will gather on Easter Day to remember him on the anniversary of his death. we'll picnic at a place he loved to visit and maybe even have a few candied orange slices for dessert. 

it will be a good day, a bright day, and what better day than Easter, to end our year of grieving, to unbind him — and ourselves — and finally let him go?

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