Today was a glorious day!
First and foremost, we celebrated our risen Lord and Savior.
It was an incredible day. Praise and Worship abounded in both services. It was a beautiful,sun-filled, cloudless day for the now, great-grandchildren to enjoy hunting eggs at Grandma's, my husband's mom.
But life wasn't always so glorious and Easter wasn't always so beautiful-at least not for one pastor's family with 4 children. Not to copy Chonda Pierce, but we too had a life-on-the-second-row-piano-side. It's a long story and I'll share a bit of my joy as well as pain...in little bits and pieces.
On March 23, Palm Sunday 1975, my family was headed to church on a Sunday evening as usual. It was Spring Youth revival, and Daddy had gone early in his new Chevy station wagon to pick up those who didn't have transportation or no longer drove. His sole purpose in getting a larger vehicle was so that he could make his "Sunday rounds" as he called them. Since mama had to take care of my little brother, my nine year old sister was always under daddy's feet. My 18 year-old brother drove his own '72 Duster to get the music ready for the youth service. Mama was Director of Youth and we had over 50 who attended week after week. We were anticipating a great gathering of youth, and Sunday evening would be no exception. I was 14 and had spent the afternoon with my "boyfriend" and was anxious to be able to see him every evening the following week. As a young teenager, my dates consisted of home visits and church activities. I remember how awkward I felt as a "budding" teenager. My clothes were too tight, my skirt not short enough, my panty hose had runs in them and I changed clothes 2-3 times as was usual, making us almost late for church. My baby brother was 5, a precious, compliant little fellow who loved his big sister. He was clearly the apple of my eye.
In the late 70's car seats and seat belts were not mandatory. Most of the time, my little brother stood in the front seat beside my mama, or sat in the middle with his hands on the dashboard.
I don't remember anything about the departure from my home that day. For some reason, on this particular evening, Mama took a different route going "around the block." My memories are scanty and foggy. I recall hearing a bang and saying, "What was that?" From there, everything goes blank. In my mind, I remember climbing over the back seat to get out on the front driver seat side. In my memory, my little brother is lying lifeless in the floorboard. I remember saying, "Oh, God, Oh God, will someone please help my baby." I don't remember even thinking about my mama. All I wanted was for someone, anyone to hurry and get my litte brother up out of the floor of that car! It seemed like an eternity for the ambulance to get there. I hated them. I screamed and begged for someone to please come. I tried to get in the car myself and everyone kept pushing me back. I remember my neighbor running up the sidewalk and holding my head to her chest as I screamed and cried.
Brian was a surprise.
Mama: "Daddy, (she always called him that) we are going to have another baby."
Daddy: "Well, I declare."
But never, not once were we not happy. He was "our" baby. I held him til his feet dragged the ground.
The hospital was surrounded with young people, community friends, church friends, family. We children were pulled away and tucked in a corner to wait. My little sister, 9 has no recollection at all of that evening and barely remembers any special time with her brother, her best friend, her sandbox, monkey bars, and swing-set buddy. The mind has a way of protecting the little ones.
My brother and I sat and waited and waited and waited. Through the wall, I heard the angry voice of my mother, "Don't worry about me. I'm fine (she wasn't), just take care of my baby."
In another room I could hear a faint cry or moan that sounded more like a hummmmmmmmm.....(my baby brother.)
The pastor for the youth revival recited, "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord..." I knew for sure my family loved the Lord, therefore, everything would be okay. I sucked in a sob, squared my shoulders and believed. After all, we were on our way to church. I mean, my daddy was in the business of bringing people to this Lord. My brother was the church pianist, my mama the director of youth. Why would God not answer the way we prayed He would.
My older brother paced and I was taken away to avoid the scene of the ambulance as the doctors and nurses prepared to take my baby brother to a larger hospital more equipped to handle "head injuries." What did that mean??? Someone said, "He's just got a bad lick on the head." Mama was taken to the second floor and daddy rode in the ambulance.
We waited....We relaxed...We laughed..We tried to find some normalcy. Everything was going to be okay, right???
A doctor comes out and wants to see the family. "Who's taking care of the other children?" My uncle, my mama's brother says, "They're with me." Let's come in here for a moment. I remember the green tiled wall, the smell of blood and alcohol, the weird lights that blinded me. "He's going to tell us that everything is going to be okay, isn't he." After all, I believed. I had no doubts. I was not afraid.
"He's gone," was all he said. No warning, no preparation, no nothing!
I hated that doctor. I hated the manner in which he spoke. I hated his lies. My brother was NOT gone. The preacher said, "ALL things work together for GOOD," and this is not good!
I didn't see my mama for days. My sister and I went home with a neighbor who had other children. I was scared and angry, without a mama and daddy and without hope. I could hear someone crying. My neighbor cried and held me, "Just the cat." I thought, "The cat is crying too."
I cried myself to sleep as my teeth chattered from fear. What do we do now?
"Daddy, don't forget my Easter basket," were the last words that he said.
Life on the second row, piano side was forever changed...