Friday, March 25, 2016
The Heartbreaking Road
Easter Memories: The Holiday of Forgiving
I lived in the house next to the river, where memories of my early childhood blur together. The beginning of spring always reminded me of Easter. It was a holiday that children waited for all year. It was not because of an enormous fluffy bunny that would lay its eggs in the bushes, not because the baskets with goodies and candies would arrive by our doors, and not because the dinner table would bend under all the delicious food, but because this was the only holiday when parents would buy new clothes and shoes for their children. They were simple shirts, dresses, and sandals—sometimes too big, sometimes too small—but kids did not care about the blisters on their feet or newspaper stuffed in their shoes so that they wouldn’t lose them while showing them off to their friends. Kids worked hard through the harvest, and new clothes and shoes were a reward for their effort. For me, though, it was a heartbreaking road to that store in the city.
During the winter, our pig gave birth to piglets. Day and night we protected them from the pig so that she wouldn’t eat them or squash them beneath her heavy body. Every day after school I ran to the stable. It was warm from the animals breathing, making friendly noises as soon as I walked in. The pink piglets slept peacefully by the pig’s belly, shaking tiny legs in their sleep from time to time. Making a warm sound, the proud pig rolled on her back, exposing full nipples, swollen from milk. Squeaking, the hungry piglets fought for food. It was my job to make sure every piglet was fed and safe. Exhausted from feeding, the pig rolled on her belly, ignoring her babies. I curled on the hay in the corner and played their surrogate mommy. Looking for nipples, the piglets hid under my old sweaters, poking my chest with their warm noses. Making sweet snoring sounds, they were falling asleep. I listened to their breathing and read books until the pig called her piglets to eat again. As the days passed, I felt as if I were their mother, not the pig. I cuddled them, I named them, I protected them and fed them for months. Then it was time to say goodbye.
Easter was just around the corner, but the chilly breath of old man winter still hung in the air, as it fought a hastening spring passionately declaring her arrival. The snow slowly dribbled from the wet stable, thawing under the glowing sun. The water made shallow puddles, and tiny streams escaped to the noisy river, carrying ice and debris. Swollen from slush, it roared like a wounded bear caught in a deadly trap. I was ready to howl like the river when I saw a long wooden box placed by the stable door. I knew the piglets would be sold at the market to people who would raise them for food. I walked to the window to see my babies again.
Snubbing the snow on the ground, the blissful sunrays beamed through the dark glass, which was covered in sparkling beads of water, dripping on the painted wall like my bitter tears. The piglets slept serenely next to their mother, not realizing that this would be their last night together. Too big to fit next to the pig’s stomach, some of the piglets curled under her neck and ears. The pig tenderly poked them with her nose, as if she kissed them for the last time. I sat on the box and cried.
That night Mom took them to the market. I wept in the stable all day. I knew that no one would love and care for my piglets as much as I did. I wished Easter never came. It should be the holiday of forgiving and rekindling souls, but I did not feel that way. I could not accept the price I paid for the new dress and shoes. Easter after Easter, new scars marked my soul, until I realized that my pains were imperceptible compared to the agonies God’s Son suffered.