I keep a sweater in my drawer that my grandmother made. I’ve never worn it but maybe I’ll wear it this spring. I’m not quite sure how I acquired it. I think my mother had it and gave it to me. It’s one of those things I know I have at the bottom of a drawer and it comforts me to see it once in a while.
It is a reminder of this person who I absolutely adored. She would make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on paper plates and then she would give us chips and soda (stuff we didn’t get at home). When she visited she would slip me “mad money”. This would be a five dollar bill that I could spend any way I pleased, preferably on something frivolous. She never visited long enough.
When I became an adult, I would think about her and give her a call. She would say “I can’t believe you called, I was just thinking about you.” Sometimes I would think about calling her and my phone would ring and I would say to her “I can’t believe you called, I was just thinking about YOU!”
We had a special connection. I visited her in Florida a few days before she died. She spent that weekend talking about her seven children, their spouses, her grandchildren and her two great grandchildren. She talked about each one, her love for them, her hopes for them, her dreams for them. She held my oldest son and fawned over him.
I got the call when I got back to NY. I remember taking the call in our den. I remember sinking down onto the blue carpet, already denying what I knew was the truth. She was gone.
I remember her funeral, one of my aunts loaning me a belt for my dress, breast Feeding my son in the restroom at the funeral home. My grandmother in her violet suit that she had worn to her fiftieth wedding anniversary party. A basket of violets at the funeral home – just like the violets at the fiftieth anniversary party.
The only plants I have in my house, the only plants that I have ever been able to keep alive are purple violets.
On Good Friday, I mourn the people I have lost. People close to me that have formed me as a person. I think about how all of us at some time or another have rejected the love that we are offered. I reflect on how the crowds turned on Jesus who had only offered love and healing to his followers. I think about suffering and death and I pray that all those suffering will become aware of the love of God even though there are moments where we all feel forsaken. Even Jesus felt forsaken.
On Holy Saturday, we live into the void. We stare at the rock blocking the entrance to the tomb, we feel the emptiness of loss. We wait. We wonder.