Holy Week – 2020
My baby girl passed away on the Monday, April 5th, 1982, right after Palm Sunday. Her death, funeral visitation, and burial happed before Easter.
I have to think carefully, or be reminded by my wife, as to the actual anniversary of her passing that Monday afternoon at Columbus Children’s Hospital so long ago. It was a very cold and snowy few days in Columbus, Ohio that week. The snow kept falling everyday and dropped a couple of inches that Monday. Three days later, as I helped shovel the dirt from around her grave site, huge snowflakes fell gently all around me. I don’t know why, but after a very white winter, it finally stopped snowing Easter Sunday just a few days after we buried her. It was a fitting end because it snowed the day she came into this world and the day she left.
As I said, I have a difficult time remembering the actual date my little girl left my arms. Maybe it’s my advancing years, but I really believe it is etched in my brain and heart as the Monday after Palm Sunday. So, that is the time I remember her passing and allow myself to stand a little closer to my grief. Holy Week.
As most Christians know, Easter Sunday doesn’t fall on the same date in spring each year. So, maybe you can give me a little latitude and understanding as to why the actual date becomes a little fuzzier each year. It’s not that I don’t try to hold her close as each year passes, I just get a little confused as to the exact date.
It turns out that Palm Sunday has fallen on April 4th only two times over the past 38 years and subsequently, Easter Sunday on April 11th: 1993 and 2004. That means, 36 times I have been wrong about morning the death of my youngest child. To me, it’s always been Holy Week and while the date moves every year, my heart does not. She died on the Monday after Palm Sunday, we buried her on Maundy Thursday, and the rest of my family dressed up for Easter Sunday.
It also must be noted that since I celebrate, honor her life, and morn her death on a different date each year, I also get to do that alone. I don’t mind really. It is a precious time spent by myself and I’m okay with that. I was a young father trying to make sense of a strange and difficult time in his life as he tried to navigate himself and his family through a ridiculous passage in his life. A week that only I can appreciate and bring back the clarity to a very lonely week, oddly surrounded by friends, family and strangers standing nearby.
This past Saturday, my wife and I went to visit our baby girl’s grave on April 4th, the day before the anniversary of her death. We had to go on Saturday because the cemetery was oddly closed on Sunday. I don’t know if that was their normal schedule or because the Coronavirus had forced them to shutter like the rest of the world.
The visit this time will be one of the closest weeks that mirror that special week back in 1982. I’ll hold onto it as best I can.