A few days after Easter, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my 5-year-old daughter. We were revisiting the things we had enjoyed the most about our days recently and she started telling me about how we had celebrated Easter and what she had learned. She recalled how she and I had gone through a process together each of the 12 nights leading up to Easter Sunday called the Resurrection Eggs, where an egg is opened and a small object that points to a piece of Jesus' story is inside. We read a little blurb and a scripture from a book that accompanied it, and while I thought it was a great conversation starter, if I'm totally honest, when I was in it, I thought "what am I doing? How can a 5-year-old process these BIG words and these BIG and SAD things like spears in His side and His body going in a tomb?!" Fast forward back to our mentioned conversation, and she says to me something to the effect of "Mommy, I want to write Jesus a letter," and she just starts spilling out ALL the words that she absorbed from our conversation, from her school, and from her class at our church. I finally, in my shock, realize I should write this down, and I get her to go back and start over. And this is what came out:
If you can't read my awful handwriting, please allow me to translate:
You rose from the dead because You died on the cross. All the people put your body in the tomb, Joseph wrapped Your body with a quilt. Then the ladies wanted to come wash Your body, but the tomb was empty! Behind Mary said a voice, 'Mary!' and Mary looked behind her and said 'Jesus!' I'm so happy that You're alive!
Love, Nora Beth"
(and then she signed it herself and said 'Now Jesus will know who sent it to Him.)
As I look at these words my girl stored up in her heart this Easter, I think what stands out to me the most was two things:
1) That Jesus called Mary by her name and that's when she knew His face.
2) Her statement "I'm so happy that You're alive!" I wish you could have seen her face when she said it. She stood up on her chair, she threw her arms out, and she declared it.
The experience of Holy Week was an emotional experience for me (as you can tell from my most recent blog). It marked the passing of my dear friend, and gave me a whole new appreciation for Christ's choice of the Cross, the Deliverer He truly is, and His ability to handle my confusion, my grief, and all my raw feelings.
Today is the actual calendar date that marks one year without her here. One year of new Johnnyswim music that I'm stupid behind on appreciating. One year of getting better at being on time and her not being able to appreciate it or experience it. One year of having a little boy she doesn't know. One year of Krystals consumed without her participation. One year of holidays. One year of parties and showers and celebrations. One year of life here. One year of her life in Heaven.
As I sit here, on this day that holds such weight, on this day on the other side of the resurrection, I have got to turn away from the tomb and turn around because He is calling my name.
That does not suggest that death doesn't still hurt us because it DOES. It is sad and stupid and hard. My feelings, and all the feelings of those affected by the loss of her, are raw and real and matter to the Lord. But. He is ALIVE, and so is my friend. She is alive because the tomb was empty. Because the tomb was empty, He was able to call her by name and she could see His face forevermore. Today, He is calling me by name to tell you this story, to meet my heart that longs to see His face, and hers.