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"The Cross and Resurrection Gives New Meaning"

Spring is finally here. For those of you living up north, you know the relief of feeling warmer weather and seeing the buds beginning to show at the end of every tree branch. As a child I always loved the snow and in some ways I never wanted it to go away. But even though I love the snow, I'm glad to see the weather beginning to change again.

For me, spring is a sign of new life or in some sense, life returning again. I wish I could say that my father will be returning home this spring, but that's one thing that won't happen. Already I anticipate the sadness of not having barbeques, sharing birthdays, and family vacations. I wish he could watch me play softball or share in a simple baseball catch in the driveway as we used to do. I won't be spending time with him on the deck or listen to him share some of his thoughts and dreams. That won't happen in my lifetime.

A lot of this process is about re-adjusting our lives without my father. Despite our circumstances, flexibility is key not only for dealing with this particular life situation, but it is a good practice for living healthier lives. I find that even now, I'm learning to live life more, to enjoy each day and see it as a gift. I "see" things clearer and I even "hear" a little better. Perhaps that's part of the "good" (if there is such a thing) that comes from losing someone so amazing: gifts are released and passed on.

Last week, we had the opportunity to spend Easter with our family upstate NY. As always, my family goes way beyond the call of duty and makes the holiday so special. So many relatives arrived and partook in the homemade festivities - from homemade meals to playing football, from sitting in the hot tub under frigid conditions to watching "Lord of the Rings" again, or just sharing great memories from our last gathering. It really is a special time.

In spite of the special occasion, it was also very sad for a few reasons. On Saturday, April 10, it was my father's 58th birthday. I couldn't help but take some time off to be alone and think of my father. The feeling of not having him present, plus the feelings my mother had of not being able to celebrate that day with him seemed a little overwhelming since this was our first time we didn't get to celebrate his birthday with him. Then, the following morning (Easter), while at mass, I was touched as I listened to the homily shared on the uniqueness of the resurrection. For me, it seemed like the priest was speaking to me only. As I thought of the significance of Christ's death and his power over it, I began to say, "this is what it all comes down to." It was the reality that Christ's power over death was not simply just a restoration of someone coming back as he once was, but it was an entirely new body. That's the significance. He wasn't just restored but renewed. His body was beaten and broken, and he experienced humiliation as he hung, naked in front of people who slung insults upon insults. He was betrayed by his closest companions, including his own Father. But after he returned to earth, he was entirely different. He was made whole.

I began to see that this is what lies at the crux of my faith, and it is the hope I have for my father and the hope I rest in when I return "home" also. So, for me, this Easter weekend was filled with mixed emotions. Ironically, my sadness would re-surface a few days later as I was given the news that my uncle had passed away Tuesday morning. None of us expected that would we return in just a few days to say our last respects to a very special uncle.

Our return only brought back many sad memories of when we had to say goodbye to my father. Yet, this time, our return had a new experience to it: we could now enter into the same pain our relatives were experiencing at that moment. To see all my cousins, my aunts and uncles so broken over this significant loss only made me feel so helpless, once again. There's nothing you can say at such a time that can remove or bring comfort for their loss. However, despite that feeling of helplessness, there was no other place I would rather be than with them. I'm so honored to be a part of this wonderful family. Once again I'm reminded of the gifts God has given me through my family.

Please pray for my relatives. This is really (and I can't stress this enough) a very difficult time. They need our prayers more than anything right now.

With love,