Easter is an occasion that I used to spend with my family. We'd gather at my parents' house Sunday morning and attend church together and, following church, prepare a meal and dine together. I enjoyed attending church with my parents and with my sister's children, enjoyed hiding and finding eggs, and always receiving a chocolate rabbit with its ears bitten off by my father, something I did not enjoy so much when I was a little girl but grew to love.
I miss my family during the holidays, miss being a part of the familiar morning fuss of my father running early and my mother running late, of zipping up my mother's dress as she applied her lipstick, of organizing who would ride in what car, who would drive, arguing over which of the two obvious routes was really the quickest, and then the calm of finally arriving at the church, realizing that we had made it on time, and quietly catching our collective breath and enjoying the moments of quiet and splendor before the service began.
Last year was my first Easter without my parents. I had recently lost my mother and internally was mulling the lyrics of the spiritual Motherless Child as I faced my future. As Easter got closer, I was filled with dread because I was filled with a feeling of not belonging anywhere. Of course I would go to church and of course I knew I was one of God's children but I yearned to feel that I belonged with people. With one child in college and one not particularly interested in Easter, with my sister happily situated in Austin and an estranged relationship with my brother, more than a motherless child, I was feeling family-less. I wasn't at all sure what I would do with myself.
That's when my dear friend who lives in Vermont threw me a lifeline. She and her husband and their two girls travel to Houston annually to stay with her parents during Easter. She asked if I would like to attend Easter brunch with the family, followed by the Easter egg hunt on the grounds of their country club. Of course I said yes. It was a wonderful day and I very much enjoyed spending time with her parents who I've known since I was a little girl, and my friend, and her expanding family. Again this year I was invited to join the family in their Easter ritual. It felt good to be taken into the folds of their routine, to be included and to feel so completely welcomed.
On Easter Sunday, two close friends joined me for the morning services at my church. Following the services, I had been invited to brunch hosted by the mother of one of those friends and attended by the mother of the other friend. I enjoyed having brunch in my friend's mother's home and enjoyed watching these two friends interact with their mothers, listening to stories of when my friends were little girls, and also filling my plate from an enormous spread of wonderful food that tasted so good that we all overate and I'm pretty sure I waddled out of there like a woman seven months pregnant.
When I got home late Sunday afternoon, I changed out of my Easter dress and into comfy sweats and settled onto my bed to read for a bit. That's funny, thinking I would read, because two and a half hours later I woke up from my nap. It was a nice, long, satisfying nap that came from the excitement and contentment of being included, of feeling that I belonged again, belonged with new, chosen families, ones that extended their arms and opened their doors and warmly invited me to join them. Those extended arms, those are the arms of some true friends.