Easter Sunday began with bursts of sunshine popping into our bedroom windows early in the morning. Birds chirped all around our house, and the Azaleas looked fresher than they had the day before. It was the beginning of a day of Christian renewal and affirmation of life, and of nature’s renewal, with the shrubs fluttering with newborn creatures, at the cusp of life. It was also a day of Easter baskets, egg hunts, and a long-awaited reunion family hangout time. Easter for us was a time to relive family memories and renew our ties that can loosen over miles and years.
My sister-in-law is here! After six years, Leena has come here from South Africa for a short stay. She’s the only sister, and was married and stayed in South Africa when the rest of their family emigrated from there. She lost her husband last fall, just one day after I lost my brother, so her trip here is very special to me, because we all are sharing in healing. She’s a hoot and these rare visits are so cherished. Our son was home from college, as well. So, both sides of our family got to spend the day together, over a spicy Indian brunch at my in-laws’ house, and then over a Mexican spread at our house that my mom and I prepared. I love me some southern cooking, but after years of marriage, even I crave spice in my meals most of the time!
I love being around these two brothers and their sister. They swap memories of a childhood so unfamiliar to me, and I feel like I’m glimpsing history as I listen. In between joking with each other in different languages, journey back their Apartheid life, something this white girl cannot even fathom in real life. My father-in-law went to school with men who are important public figures who were instrumental in the demise of Apartheid, and the siblings took part in a volatile march against Apartheid in the 1980s, and were lucky enough to escape the beatings that many of their fellow students endured. I silently reflected that while they were marching, I was passing notes in middle school and worrying about nothing more than getting the latest Cindy Lauper album for my birthday.
But, as we sat around the table of our suburban house, in our manicured suburban neighborhood, where kids play freely in the streets, our worlds blended. Our kids have the privilege of close connections to events that most other American kids learn about in books. And I think everyone enjoyed just sharing with each other in the here and now. They have memories of good and bad times that bonded forever so tightly, and I hope that spending that Easter day together is a renewal of hopes for the future, as well. The good time we had is etched in my memory and I hope that when we are all parted again, everyone else will carry that memory with them as well.