An Easter I didn’t ever imagine
Today is Good Friday in South Africa. We have always loved celebrating this day. Amidst singing songs of worship all day (we love music), we have celebrated this day with a special meal of a roast leg of lamb for lunch and all the trimmings.
Actually, since Savannah was seven years old I taught her to participate in preparing the lamb. There were so many reasons why this was an impossible feat for her. She had physical and sensory challenges. She had some language processing difficulties and her ability to concentrate was almost non-existent.
However, we found clever ways to help her to engage in this special family time. As a young mother I hoped that when my children became adults and when we would be enjoying family celebrations with their respective families; that Savannah would participate in the celebrations by preparing a meal. I wanted her to feel how important her contribution to the family was.
It was humble beginnings of simply teaching her to pour the marinade over the leg of lamb to about ten years later when she was able to plan the entire meal. She would mix the marinade, prepare the leg of lamb and with some assistance from myself or my mum; she even served the meal. Savannah loved planning this meal. She felt so proud that she could serve her family and that we appreciated her efforts so much.
Being raised as an Indian woman, my family placed a high value on our ability as women to prepare meals. It is important to be the “hostess with the most-ess”. Literally. We value celebrations marked by the beautiful presentation of large meals. So, while I don’t live my life based on my culture; I did feel a sense of pride that my physically disabled daughter who is also autistic could prepare a special dish for a special family celebration.
This year though Savannah has not been bothered with planning the meal. She has not been interested in doing much. She is going through a difficult time for many reasons. It is not my place to share the details of that publicly.
What I can share is that as I watch her grapple with her reality, it is easy for me to feel angry and sad. We worked hard as a family to give Savannah a hopeful, bright future. We wanted her to always feel happy and joyful. We wanted her to know that she is big part of the world and that she has a reason to wake up everyday and live her best life.
As I ponder the complex threads of my emotions, I realise I am not sad or angry. I awakened to the understanding that the human experience isn’t about success and failures. It is a rather magnificent testimony of being a witness to each other’s lives. And when that “other” is your own child, then it is only you who can be brave enough and strong enough to witness everything that our children must endure.
I reminisce today of all the Easters before when Savannah’s excitement filled the household as she prepared the Good Friday Leg of Lamb lunch; and I am thankful.
I am thankful for the many Easter celebrations that was everything I wanted it to be. I am reminded of how strong we all are and how much we have lived through. I am grateful that Savannah too knows her own strength and power. I am hopeful that she will find her way again because of that. I am humbled as I surrender to the understanding that life is full of surprises. Some good and some bad. My courage is renewed as I remember the grace that has been given to us which has brought us this far.
Today as we celebrate Good Friday, my hope is in the story of the crucifixion of Christ. It was not an end, but a beginning of a new life. It is my thread of hope that one day Savannah will know what it feels like to be Peaceful and Joyful without needing to prove anything to anyone. She will never have to suffer the weight of living in a world that sets itself against her. And I will never have to feel helpless and frustrated at my own limitations as a parent.
That is the why in spite of everything, I am celebrating the gift that Good Friday gives to me. Faith, Hope and Love.