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April 6, 2007
If one is naturally high-spirited and knows how the story ends, it can be hard to maintain the sadness proper to the day. The shopping for Easter dinner still needs to be done, after all, and tomorrow will be a day of baking, egg-dyeing and table-setting for the feast. If you are built to enjoy that sort of thing, you itch to begin.

There are a hundred tasks in which to lose oneself: the washing of dishes, the chopping of vegetables, the making of beds, the feeding of animals. Throughout human history it has been so: into each life, tragedy will come, but the cow must still be milked every day. Upon such mundane hooks we hang the sorrows of our lives. The very plainness of them provides a peculiar comfort.

But it is an intermittent one. The immensity of your sorrow intrudes on your ordinariness, again and again: you suspend an egg above the bright surface of the dye and think of it, stop stirring for a moment and stare into the middle distance, thinking of it. You stoop to dust a bottom shelf and remain kneeling there, thinking of it, blinded by your tears. You plunge into ordinary things, and in their matter-of-fact way they receive you. But they cannot conceal your changed world for very long.

The horrified friends of the slain found each other in the crowd and stumbled home -- which was not really home, only a rented room above someone else's house. Mostly they did not speak. Someone put a plate of food in front of them and they picked at it. They went to bed as soon as they could, seeking the oblivion of sleep. It came in fits and starts, scraps of dreams and then horrid awakenings, to a nightmare that was real.

Those who had lost people before knew that the horror doesn't last forever. You get better in time. This they knew. But they also knew that it was too soon for that knowledge to be of any comfort at all. This would be like all the other losses, they knew: permanent.

We leave them in the upper room, shocked and sick at heart. They do not know how the story ends, because it hasn't ended, not for them. We are the ones who know. Back through centuries we send them love and try to send them hope: Dear grandfathers, look up! Your sorrow is almost over. The feast is at hand. It is coming to you soon!
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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