Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations

Typically, we spend Easter Sunday in a pleasant frenzy. Getting dressed up.  Coordinating gifts for the boys with the Easter Bunny. Serving at Mass. Cooking up something small to add to the feast we would inevitably share with my extended family, all 30+ of us crammed into some relative’s home to celebrate the holiday.

This year is, obviously, more subdued. I think it’s easy for me to mourn the Easter that could have been — and to feel annoyed with this pandemic and its effects on my life, particularly in light of this holiday’s importance to my faith and to my entire family.

And that emotional weight seems a bit heavier when I take into account:

  1. I haven’t seen my extended family in over a month.
  2. My grandparents wish that they could see my kids and me, since being around their grandchildren and great-grandchildren is one of their highlights of any holiday.
  3. I’m continuing to grapple with my sense of parental failure, particularly since I dropped the ball a bit and completely overlooked compiling an Easter basket for Tadashi and Hiro.

Going into this Easter Sunday — particularly last night, as I prepared to fall asleep — I wrestled with an overall sense of sadness, frustration, and emptiness. How could this day be special when it seems like everything has gone so wrong?

Continue reading “Bright Spots: New Easter Celebrations”

Bright Spots: Birthday Celebrations

Your special day was more subdued than I envisioned.

I suppose “subdued” is what I should have expected, though, in the midst of a global pandemic and a regional directive to shelter in place. There’s only so much you can do when restaurants are closed, nonessential traveling is discouraged, and gatherings of 10 or more people are essentially banned.

Truthfully, I had hoped to throw you a huge shindig. Not necessarily in terms of the guest list (because I know you prefer to keep things intimate). But definitely in terms of energy. A party full of laughter and beer and burgers and donuts and all the people that you like to have in your corner.

I’m saddened that I couldn’t give you that celebration this year, especially since this is a milestone one for you. Amidst all this craziness going on in the world, I recognize that my reaction is selfish, probably a little misplaced. After all, there are bigger things going on in the world, right?

But after yesterday, after our “subdued” birthday celebration at home, I would have to say: no, celebrating you on your day — just the five of us, with the empty takeout boxes piled on the counter, with Henri whining for crumbs or potentially a big bite, with the boys’ chubby faces lighting up to sing you “happy birthday” and devouring their pieces of cake and ice cream — is the biggest thing going on in the world for us right now.

So, happy birthday to you, love. Thank you for being you. Thank you for weathering this storm. Thank you for always thinking about what’s best for me and the boys. On your 30th birthday, I hope we were able to give you the best, too.

Bright Spots: Discovering the Ocean

This past Saturday, Reggie and I took Tadashi* on a day trip to Monterey and Carmel. Reggie had a beachside engagement shoot scheduled with a couple of clients that evening, so he asked if Tadashi and I wanted to spend some time together on the beach while he worked.

I happily obliged: I can never pass up an opportunity to walk barefoot in the sand.

When Reggie and I separated so he could get to work, I strapped Tadashi to my belly, took off my shoes and socks, and paced the shoreline as the sun slowly but surely dipped toward the horizon. I savored the coarse sand on my soles, the biting ocean water lapping over my toes, the cool breeze on my face.

Close to sunrise at Carmel Beach…

And, after much longer than I probably should have realized, something dawned on me: this is the very first time Tadashi has seen the ocean.

And I immediately shifted my focus from the distant horizon to my wide-eyed son. And I smiled at the pure wonder and curiosity on his face. “That’s the ocean,” I told Tadashi. I explained to him that this was the home of all the creatures we saw earlier at the aquarium. I pointed out the waves, coming and going in a steady rhythm; the kelp scattered around the shoreline; the seagulls gliding overhead.

But, mostly, I tried my best to simply observe him. How, as I walked along the shore, he turned his head from side to side in order to keep a close eye on the water. How he kicked his feet in joy as dogs raced past us in the sand. How he craned his neck and reached his chubby little fingers toward the trees above us. How he blinked rapidly and stuck his tongue out at the ocean breeze, maybe to feel the wind on his tongue, maybe to taste the salty air.

This is the first time Tadashi has seen the ocean, I realized. And I am so grateful that I am with him right now.

Because, in the midst of all the chaos of first-time parenthood, I sometimes forget that I have the privilege of witnessing a little human being experience the world for the first time. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.