(Photo by Kathryn Coffey)

Photo by Kathryn Coffey

An Unusual Easter

April 13, 2020

I had it all figured out. I was going to drive home from Decatur after classes wrapped up on Thursday. Mom and I would go church hopping. Dad would be watching the Ten Commandments on TV. I would stay home until early Monday morning and make it back just in time for Collegiate rehearsal.

Then Covid-19 happened.

I’ve been home since the middle of March. I’ve only been back in Decatur once since then. I’ll have to stay here until further notice.

This Easter wasn’t going to be like the others.

As I’ve mentioned before, the first time I’ve been away from my family for Easter was my senior year of high school.

Every year our school would take a group of students to Appalachia for service. We’d help paint walls, fix porches, or anything else to help out the locals. When I went, we even had a day where we helped in a soup kitchen with another all-girls high school in Kentucky.

Of course, spending time in Appalachia meant missing out on the Easter Vigil.

My family hasn’t been to church in years, yet they have always made time for Easter Vigil mass. At our parish, everything goes dark before the mass starts. Then the priests gather around the Holy Weber Grill outside and bring the fire inside.

We sing some songs, read about Moses drowning the Pharaoh’s soldiers, welcome a few new members to the Church, and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

I loved attending these masses. Something about the atmosphere, I guess. I love how the light comes back after spending most of the mass in the dark.

Even without my family, we still had time for mass. It was a small church, and the service was straightforward.

For the rest of the time, I still had fun. Stopping by the Pound for singing and dancing, watching one of the counselors burn his fingers cleaning the metal marshmallow sticks, hiking around the Virginian countryside: they’re all good memories I have from that trip.

This year, my high school called the Appalachia mission trip off. I know it’s for a good reason, but it still stinks.

Still, I wanted to have a good time this Easter.

I volunteered to help cook brunch. I made some pancakes.

I’ve had a hankering for them for a while, but I also wanted to surprise my folks. Mom was more awake than me, though. But it all worked out in the end. Plus, unlike the other times where I end up with undercooked pancakes, every single one of them were perfectly cooked.

The Easter Bunny dropped in earlier to give us chocolate bunnies. At least some things never change.

In years before, my dad’s side of the family would have a huge celebration at a country club. I’d have fun slurping on Kiddie Cocktails and enjoy some dino chicken nuggets with a lot of my younger cousins.

Now it’s just Uncle B. My mom’s cooking steaks with garlic butter, served with Irish soda bread and mashed potatoes. And I get a text from one of my aunts: a video featuring my cousins singing and acting goofy.

It’s still Easter after all.

We just sit around and talk about the old times, well, mostly Dad and Uncle B. I get glimpses at relatives I never had the pleasure to meet.

Dad and Uncle B exchange some memories about times they got annoyed with each other. The rest of us just crack up.

It was simple but still special.

It’s the kind of experiences my Uncle B calls his favorite memories. He finds joy in people talking about times before he was born. He loved hearing the nicknames everyone called each other.

I like this sort of stuff, too. I never got to know these people my Gen X family members were talking about. It’s wonderful that at least I get to hear about them. They seem very awesome, like my folks said.

This Easter may not have had a Holy Weber Grill, a singalong at a bonfire, or painting Easter eggs, but we still have good food and quality time with family. I couldn’t have been luckier than that.

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