First off, I want to wish a happy Easter to the Wong family. Especially to Father Pete, the Episcopalian priest who taught me, a non-Episcopalian, to say “And also with you,” at the appropriate time during a ‘Piskie service. These words are code for, “I love you.”
He was the same clergyman who once told me, as it says in Scripture, that whenever two or three Episcopalians are gathered, there is a fifth.
Happy Easter to Tessa, who is in the ICU with a serious infection right now. Tessa (age 23) will be celebrating this holiday by binge watching “Monk” episodes with her dad. Her father, a Lutheran minister, will be skipping his first Easter Sunday service in 22 years to sit beside his sick child.
“Pray for my daughter,” says Tessa’s dad. “Please.”
And to Don, who was stuck in traffic when he sent me an email from his phone this morning. Don is trying to make it to Georgia to see his newborn boy, Joshua, born last night at 11:43 p.m.
Don was on a business trip in Indiana and missed the agonizing childbirth. Thankfully, Don’s sister-in-law videoed the entire messy experience in great detail, then sent it to Don. Don watched the video and remarked: “Just imagine passing a kidney stone the size of a second-grader.”
Happy Easter to Aaron and April, my distant cousins, who are having Easter dinner with their daughters Rachel and Kendall, and all their friends. And especially to Aaron, who helped me move a heavy couch today and walked with a limp thereafter no matter how much medicinal beer we administered. The least I can do is mention his name here.
To Veronica, the Guatemalan woman who has been waiting on her U.S. citizenship to be approved for two years. She was approved yesterday. “I am an American now,” said Veronica. “I am weeping as I write this because I am so proud to be American.”
Happy Easter to George and Janet who, last Wednesday, were forced to put their 14-year-old Labrador to sleep. The dog’s name was Suzie.
To Bree (21) who lost her mother in a car accident on Monday. While many are in church, Bree will be preparing a funeral for her mother.
“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with my life now,” she said. “If you could, pray for me, please. I miss calling her on the phone.”
Also, while you’re at it, pray for Robbie (10) and Paul (13), brothers whose father left this world last year by his own hand.
This will be the boys’ first Easter without him, and they’re a mess. This holiday will be particularly difficult because their father always sang bass in the choir. Said the boys’ mother: “My boys are going to remember their dad by going fishing.”
To the family of Wallace Mann, the white-haired retired preacher I met by accident on the side of the road. He was selling vegetables at a vegetable stand in Reeltown, Alabama. He sold tomatoes that were beautiful enough to cause palpitations.
Wallace was the nicest man I ever knew. Shortly before he died, he hugged me from his wheelchair and said, “God don’t play favorites, son, but if he did, you’d be it.” Which he probably said to everyone. He died on Easter Sunday a few years ago.
To Brother John and Miss Delores, of Brewton, Alabama. Brother John is the same elderly country preacher who once told me that ice cream was proof that God loved us. Then, like all steadfast Baptists, he took me to Shoney’s.
To Mama. This will be the first Easter I’ll be spending in another state, away from the woman who raised me. A single woman who endured hard times, low wages, and thankless work to bring up two children in the face of perdition.
Happy Easter to my sister, Sarah, and her husband, Paul, and my two towheaded nieces Lily (Uncle Lily), and Lucy (Stinky), who make “enthusiasm” an inadequate word.
To you. No matter who you are. No matter what you’re feeling. No matter what private hell you’re going through. No matter what obstacle you’re trying to surmount. No matter what kind of sadness you’re wading through, no matter what kind of uncertainty is wrecking your sanity. I speak from my heart when I say:
And also with you.