My oldest daughter wrote this reflective piece and posted it on her facebook page. With her permission, I am sharing it with you here.
by Keicha Christiansen
If I had to pick my favorite holiday it would be Easter. I delight in the activity surrounding it--candy, coloring eggs, egg hunts, family gatherings, an excuse to buy a new dress and get dressed up, sightings of new lambs in green pastures, mom's potato salad at Easter dinner, and the fact that it takes place in Spring, my favorite season. This year, I've been reflecting on Easter just one short year ago and all that's changed since.
Last year, as I frequently do, I spent Easter in Colorado. My two sisters and I hit the road with our traveling circus of three kids, one large yellow Lab, and assorted luggage and headed to mom's house in Pueblo for the weekend. That Saturday brought a house full of people, as my three stepsisters, their spouses and all of their children came down for a party. We had an egg hunt for the kids and a cookout. A picture taken of me that day with my sisters captured my happiness and contentment. At that moment I was surrounded by things that make me happy. The sun was shining, family was all around me, our kids were laughing and playing, my sisters were by my side. Life was good.
|Keicha, Julie, Amy|
That evening was spent like most evening's when we gathered at mom's-- in the family room in front of the fireplace with the dogs, Phoenix and Buster at our feet. Julie and I shared a bedroom that trip, sleeping in twin beds just a few feet apart from each other. I remember that night, drifting off to sleep in mid-conversation with my sister, loving that feeling of returning to childhood with my mom down the hall and my sister sleeping across from me barely an arm's length away. It was that familiar, cozy feeling of being home, which was funny because I didn't grow up in that house, none of us did. But home is all about the feeling of a place, not the actual location.
On Easter morning, the entire household was up and gathered in the living room, in our pajamas drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, the kids eating chocolate eggs from their Easter baskets. Julie and I eventually roused ourselves and went for a run, 7 miles if I recall. It would be the last time we ran together, but of course I didn't know it at the time. We ran through the streets of Pueblo, her old stomping grounds. As we ran, she talked about her time there during high school. I asked her a lot of questions about what it felt like to move to a new town as a high school student. Was she scared? Did she miss her friends? How hard was it to make new friends? She told me things about that period of her life that she'd never shared with me before. I learned so much about her during that run. Our route took us past many places that had meaning to her. She explained all the happy memories she had of running on the cross-country team, and of the really good friends she made at East High. She talked about her gratitude to our stepdad Jim, and how he made the transition so much easier for her.
Later, after Easter dinner we all headed back towards Boulder. Julie and I ended up driving together, while Amy took all the kids in her car. Our good chat continued. We talked about so many things we'd never talked about before. At Castle Rock, we pulled off for a pit stop and got ice cream cones and fries at McDonalds. We giggled at our unhealthy snack and the silly satisfaction we gained from giving in to such a ridiculous craving. When we got home to Julie's apartment, I once again drug my suitcase up three long flights of stairs. We both lamented the fact that despite being runners, the climb to her apartment was always hard on our quads! Almost immediately, we changed into warm jackets and took her dog Phoenix to a nearby park to chase a tennis ball. Looking back on that evening, I'm again struck at how such a seemingly inconsequential moment in life made me so happy. There I was swinging on a swing set, talking to Julie in between her laps around the park with Phoenix. The wind was blowing, but we were laughing and happy. Inside, I felt light-hearted, free from worry. Being in Colorado with my sisters always had that effect on me.
The next day, Julie went off to work and I headed back to Utah. Our goodbyes were always matter-of-fact. "Goodbye. Thanks for coming out. I love you. See you soon." Of course we would. We just took it for granted. At least I did. Little did I know the next time I'd be back in her apartment, it would be to empty it of her belongings after her funeral. That time the climb up those stairs didn't hurt just my quads. It broke my heart.
So, this Easter is different for me. Instead of joy, I'm reminded of all that I've lost. Going home to mom's for Easter is a thought I can't even bear. I'm afraid of how different everything will be. Julie is gone, Phoenix will no longer be a part of our road trips, even my mom's dog Buster is gone. He died four days after Julie. So much has changed. Having a sister missing from our comfortable group of three leaves an unfathomable void. Her absence is always there, just under the surface. Amy and I carry on, but now when we're together things seem just a little off-kilter. We haven't adjusted to our new dynamic of only two sisters.
Eventually I'll go home again. Just not this year. We'll all make new happy memories of Easter at mom's. For now, I try to focus on the memories and the good feelings they bring. I've realized that happiness in life is made up of so many simple moments. Times that aren't planned. Conversations that just happen. Cravings that are indulged. Laughter that comes for almost no reason at all. Those are the moments we carry in our hearts.
*I wrote about this past year's Easter Weekend on my blog. If you are interested, you may read about it here: http://sallysbloggingspot.blogspot.com/2010/04/easter-weekend.html