Easter Sunday was the last day I saw my parents alive. We ate an enormous Arabic feast together and then, after dinner they got into their blue mini van and drove off. By next Friday morning, they were dead.
Easter Sunday has typically been a very very hard day. It's been almost eerie to make and serve the traditional food in my family because the smells and flavors remind me that they are not hear to share them with.
The first time my brother and I made Easter dinner without them, it was just aweful and wonderful at the same time. I don't think we needed to add salt to anything. My tears took care of that. Making the food was the hardest part, because Mom wasn't there to ask for advice. "Why did she say about the bulgar wheat? She had a trick. What was it? Do you remember? No....do you?"
The thing was, though, that when the two of us pulled the meal out of the over and served it to ourselves, it was JUST LIKE Mom had make it. It was crazy.
Now, when the tornado came and I was in the wreckage, I found a few things from Dad and a few from Mom. They were kind of in "themes" if you will. Dad's remaining things were all about the United States of America, StarWars and baseball.
Mom's were all about cooking. I found a lot of pieces from my great-grandma's china set (amazing when you think about it). I found some table cloths and hot pads and most specially, I found her Arabic cookbook. It was beaten to filthy, but there it was, with her notes in the margins and all.
I remember hearing my mother say to me "This is how you will keep us alive. You will make the food and set the table and when you do, you will talk about us and who we were and in THAT way, we will live."
I took it as marching orders.
Today, I made the food. I made Kibbeh, shish-kabob, rice pilof, grape leaves, cucumber yogurt salad, tabolli, humus, sviha, green beans in red sauce, baklava, salad, pita bread, garlic sauce. I am still SO full.
I set the table with her lace cloth. I talked about them and Easter at our house. My son and daughter know what Easter should taste like. They know who their grand-parents were and how they celebrated the resurrection of the Lord.
We held hands in a circle around the table and my husband gave thank to the Lord for His adundant blessing in our lives. We are so blessed.
Today, I am full.
I saw my friend Mary at church today. She's the one who told me that I might try asking the Lord to fill my emptiness rather than asking the Lord to take it away. I thanked her for that and she said "That's what He does. He fills us up. He wants us overfull so we can pour out."
He definatly did that for my family today.
At church today, my son was sort of goofing off at communion and I told him that he should pray and give thanks and get his heart in the right place to recieve communion. He did. When he was done praying he wispered in my ear, "I thanked God for our family and how he blesses us and I asked Him to please send that blessing all over the world and to the people in Africa and not just have it be on this side of the planet."
I just finished writing a letter to the little girl in Ghana that my family sponsors through Compassion International. I wouldn't dream of asking her what her family's Easter Feast was like. That may be a brutal question. It was probably rice and maybe that's all.
When I think that my life is hard, I really do need to check myself a little. Life is hard, or it can be. That is true. God blesses me. He blessed me with a great mom and dad who loved me. He blesses me with a home and food and a job and a family who I have the chance to love with all my heart. He RAISED from the DEAD and defeated our brokeness. Because He lives, I live.
Thank you, Jesus.
God, hear my son's prayer. Thank you for saving us. Christ is RISEN! Alallulia.
1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (NIV)