Purpose–it may be simpler than you think.

Image by ArtCoreStudios from Pixabay

I had intended to write a blog last week to process some of my emotional overload, but after starting a draft or two, nothing substantial materialized.

Then, I got caught up in the whirlwind of coronavirus writing and submitting, because there’s so much I want to say and so much that needs to be said and so many opportunities not be squandered and this could be my big break to get a byline in a big mainstream publication and I’d better not blow it.

The outcome after three days of frenetic writing and revising was two essays and a handful of rejections. Everyone, it seemed, was writing about COVID-19. No one, it seemed, was interested in my words.

By Friday, after I submitted my essays one final time each, my thoughts returned to writing a blog. Easter was almost upon us, and, even for those who don’t celebrate, the metaphor of resurrection from darkness was too meaningful to ignore in these pandemic days. Again, I started a draft, but nothing gelled.

My thoughts were dandelion seeds dispersing in the wind, and in my attempt to catch them all, every single seed slid from my fingers.

Then I thought maybe I’d wake up early yesterday, Easter Day, and tap something out. Surely a seed would germinated on Easter, right?

Wrong.

Easter morning dawned on the heels of a few worse-than-normal gut days for me. The morning was another physical and emotional ordeal. By noon, I was so exhausted, I had to lie down.

Usually, when I need a ten or twenty-minute reset like this, it will revive me enough to face the rest of the day. Yesterday, it didn’t. I didn’t know if I could get up. I didn’t know if I wanted to.

I’ve never had a day when I couldn’t get out of bed, when depression or illness imprisoned me so fully that I gave in to the pull of the cocoon under my covers.

Yesterday, I wondered if it would be the first.

But my son was coming over. He was coming to celebrate Easter.

My husband and I had nothing special planned. We got curbside take-out on Saturday, wiped down the containers, and put them in the fridge for Sunday. We planned out our social-distancing-together strategy—where we would sit, how we would handle food distribution, which doors to use or not use.

Steve, our son who lives further away, didn’t make the drive for the weekend as he’s done for years. It was the right choice not to travel. I missed him, but he was safe–that mattered more.

But Matt lives twenty minutes away, and he was coming over. He was my purpose in getting up. So I did.

Please excuse the pun, but I rose from the bed.

I brushed my teeth and showered and got dressed and ate lunch and picked up a little around the house and scrolled through Facebook.

By the time Matt arrived at dinnertime, my gut had settled, allowing me to enjoy our visit. The day that I thought might break me turned out to be a great day.

Sometimes, we just need to find one purpose in the day that won’t allow us to quit, that makes us get up, show up for our day, and crawl through it if that’s all we can manage.

If you think you don’t have a purpose, you are wrong my friend.

For you have read my words. You have given me purpose today—to get these imperfect words onto this imperfect page so they reach your imperfect eyes.

Today, you are my purpose.

You may not think anyone cares if you get up or not, but you may be the very reason someone else rises, too.

If you can rise, I can rise. If I can rise, someone else can rise. And if more of us rise, then we make a statement that all hope is not lost.

The world needs that message right now. The world needs you. I needed you today, my friend, and you showed up for me.

Thank you.

Sharing our stories.

Now that my memoir is becoming more of a reality, with sections of my manuscript getting closer and closer to completion, it’s provided opportunities for our family to talk about what happened two decades ago in ways that we couldn’t back then, as we stumbled through it.

Matt was eleven when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Steve was six.

Now they’re adults, 31 and 26, respectively, and our family is exploring parts of our mutual story that are just now coming to light. My writing, and Matt’s, have been the catalyst.

This past Easter weekend, both sons were hanging out in our living room during some down time before we went out to dinner. Steve slouched in the faux leather club chair, his leg slung over the high arm (my favorite position as well.) Matt sat on the red couch in front of the window.

Matt had asked me to look over some of his recent writing, so I sat next to him on the couch to share the laptop screen. He had written about some of the most difficult aspects of his recovery. I knew some of it, from a mother’s perspective, but I didn’t know how he experienced it.

Wow. Not only is Matt’s writing powerful, but I am even more in awe of his fortitude and determination to get to where he is today.

Steve didn’t say much. When he was a kid, we tried to protect him from the drama as much as possible, and I guess we were successful, as he didn’t know anything about the scene in question. “Holy shit,” he must have been thinking.

Matt isn’t ready to share his recent writing, but if you haven’t seen his previous essay about his diagnosis day, you can read it here. 

I believe as a family, we’re learning to appreciate each other more as we share our stories of those many, many difficult days.

And I appreciate the simple gift of sitting in the living room with my guys, all of us present, all of us healthy, enjoying an ordinary day. What a blessing.

No foolin’ this year.

Lambcake - 1

This year, for better or for worse, social media, the airwaves, and maybe even the pulpit will be full of everyone’s take on the fact that Easter falls on April Fool’s Day. I have nothing unique or clever to add, so I’ll keep this post simple.

Last year, I was feeling blue about Easter; you can see what I wrote below. This year, I’m not blue, so I guess I’ve adapted to our new traditions. As long as the tradition includes my three favorite guys–hubby Michael and sons Matt and Steve–I’ll feel blessed. There will be no lamb cake again this year, but I had to share the picture because it still gives me a smile. Needless to say, don’t look for me on The Great American Baking Show.

If you’re a master lamb cake baker/decorator, please share your photo or your story and maybe I’ll be inspired for next year.

I wish you a day blessed with smiles, comforting traditions, and the presence or happy memories of loved ones. A little sunshine would be nice, too, for those of us with snow still hanging around.

Happy Easter!

 

I’m feeling a little melancholy about Easter, so please indulge me as I tell you about this photo. It makes me smile.

It’s a lamb cake, in case you couldn’t tell. If you think that’s silly, I’d like to hear your explanation about the bunny who lays chocolate eggs.

When my five siblings and I were little, our mom made a lamb cake every Easter. We were Catholic, and the symbolism in this tradition is the reference to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd.

When my parents downsized some years ago, I inherited the lamb cake mold, and used it a few times in subsequent years. My 20-something sons liked it, but I wouldn’t say it was a “hit.” A jelly bean-eyed, coconut-furred farm animal nestled in a bed of green coconut “grass”  just doesn’t rank with, say, mountain zip-lining.  (I’ll save that adventure for another blog). But my sons declared it “good” and my heart was full like a solid chocolate bunny.

Since my last lamb cake, most of the four of us–my husband and I and our two sons–are now avoiding sugar, calories, gluten, grains, dairy, and/or meat, depending on the individual. So I’m scratching the whole lamb production this year.

And I won’t waste my money on chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, or jelly beans, either, since they’ll sit untouched until candy corn season. I wouldn’t hear a peep over a plastic-grass filled Easter basket, so why bother? And the interest at my house in dyed eggs has died.

I have to face that our traditions are broken and I don’t know how to revive them.  Actually, to be honest, as much as I’m nostalgic for those Kodak moments, I’m not interested in resurrecting anything without some waving of palms or cheering of crowds alongside me. Someday my sons may be ready to carry that cross, but they’re not there yet.

So I’m going to redefine how I want to celebrate Easter. Lambs and cakes and bunnies and painted eggs are all fluff, anyway, just like pink and purple peeps. Spending the day with loved ones, an Easter lily on my dining room table, and a glass of wine on my front porch is all I really need. And spring’s rebirth is a tradition that happens with or without fanfare. I’ll be there to witness it.

The lamb cake mold will stay entombed under the dining room window-seat until there’s reason for it to be born again. The wait will be longer than three days, but good things happen when you believe in miracles–whether it’s a risen Savior, a bunny that lays chocolate eggs, or a son who one day asks to borrow a mold to resurrect a long lost tradition.