And Duke wins. How much better can it get than that!

I didn’t think it was possible to actually have a happy Easter without grandchildren hunting Easter eggs and my daughters in the kitchen with me.

I didn’t think it was possible to actually have a happy Easter without the whole family together and eating off of Mom’s china sitting on top of the quirky signature tablecloth.

I didn’t think it was possible to have a happy Easter without laying in bed listening to the girls whisper and giggle as they discovered their Easter baskets and began their Sunday morning Easter egg hunt, spying eggs hidden all over the house.

I didn’t think it was possible to actually anticipate and have tears of joy when hearing the message of Easter, the hymns of Easter, the hope of Easter. The worst thing is never the last thing… I not only BELIEVE the message of Easter, I’m COUNTING on it.

This year, Easter was going to be very uneventful for me. Yes, my Dad is here. It was the most exciting part of the weekend for me, because I anticipated taking him to experience the sunrise service at church, one of my favorites at our church. But that was about the extent of the excitement for the day. The small Easter boxes had been taped up and sent to Oregon and Texas, to be opened and enjoyed without this Ama nearby to offer a hug to go along with the candy and Bunny FooFoo cookies. Nearby family had other plans. We waffled on spending money at the grocery store for “just another meal at home” or spending money to go out for brunch, since it was just us.

I kept the tears at bay by repeating in my head, “It’s just another day. It’s just another day. It’s just another day.”

But then, my sister decided to stay in town and join us.

And then, Julie sent a message.

We discovered that our friends also had no plans for the day. We discovered that Sam’s niece and family also had no plans for the day. And the plan was put into motion. A trip to the grocery store on Saturday morning. A trip to the hardware store on Saturday afternoon for a few flowers for the pots on the patio and in the flower bed out front. A Saturday morning cleaning of the house, with the bulk of the work done by Dad. The yard mowed for the first time this season, green-carpet-ready for company on Sunday. Card tables borrowed for enough seating on the patio. Easter eggs loaded with candy for a hunt in the back yard. Because, you know, 15 people for Easter lunch doesn’t just happen.

I am so grateful for the pinkish, orange-ish, purple-ish sky as we drove to church on Sunday morning.

I am so grateful for the music and message at 7 am. From the moment we sat down until the benediction and sending, the tears welled in my eyes and I had such a sense of joy and sadness and excitement and happiness and wished that my girls could witness the service, that Mom could see from Heaven what we were experiencing here on Earth. As the choir sang, “Were you there when He rose up from the grave!”, I imagined Mom imploring us to pay attention, that if only we could see what she sees now, we’d hang on and live life to its fullest! That for all of the years we’ve believed, YES! we should COUNT on it, because the worst thing is never the last thing! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!

Chills I had. Joy I experienced.

I am so grateful for a sister who spent her Easter with us, helping to prepare the meal, sitting at the table sharing her silliness in a game of Family Feud, getting to know our friends.

I am so grateful for a friend who felt comfortable enough to send me a message and share that they had no plans for the day and would love to spend it with us. That’s a true friend.

I am so grateful for her family that enriched our day and infused fun and laughter and fullness into this mostly quiet home.

I am grateful for three girls who have been raised to participate, to communicate, to be present. Not once all day, did we see a device in their hands. Not once all day, did they excuse themselves to their own world. I am grateful for the time we were privileged to spend with them, laughing and talking and getting to know them a little better.

I am grateful for Sam’s niece and her family, for her three boys who are certainly full of life and silliness and added much entertainment to the day.

I am grateful for Sam’s daughter who chose to spend her Easter with us, when she could have spent it with friends, with other family, or with her nursing textbooks.

I am grateful for my Dad, who chose to be present and not disappear into his world. He made Aunt Drula’s salad all by himself! He took over Mom’s job of buttering the slices of french bread. He washed windows. He vacuumed and swept and moved tables and cleaned up the patio and filled the feeder and cleaned the counters. And when it was time to eat together, we gathered in a circle and held hands, and Dad offered our Easter Sunday blessing, just as it should be.

I am grateful for Sam, my husband, my partner. Sitting next to him during the morning service, knowing he was experiencing the same joy and sadness and excitement as I, holding hands and holding back tears in sync – my heart swells with love for this man. He was so intent on our home being prepared for our company. He made a special trip to the store and brought home daffodils and roses for an Easter “touch.” He didn’t disappear to the big screen to watch TV in the afternoon – he was present to host and enjoy and give love to those in our home. He played games. He prepared the meal with me, and washed dishes with me, and cleaned up afterwards with me, and all the while, he told me, “Thank you.”

It IS possible to have a happy Easter again. I know. I had one. Yesterday.

Finally, I am grateful for the message of Easter. As one of the pastors shared on Sunday morning, “We are Easter people.” I am grateful that because of Jesus, the worst thing is never the last thing. I not only believe the message of Easter, I am counting on it.

Playing on my internal jukebox all day and now into my sleep, (along with “Devil with a Blue Dress”):

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way!
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart,
You ask me how I know He lives, He LIVES WITHIN MY HEART!

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