Easter is Joey’s favorite holiday. It always has been. Not because of Easter baskets or bunnies or candy or eggs, but because today celebrates the day that Christ has risen from the dead. Joey loved sunrise services, and the Lords’ supper, and the newness of life that Easter brought to the world. She would get so excited about the day coming and would talk about it for weeks, months sometimes. I’m embarrassed to say that my favorite holiday is still Christmas. Partly because of Jesus’ birth, but also for a million sentimental reasons and trees and carols and the ‘feeling’ that’s in the air that time of year. I still have a lot of growing in my faith to do I guess.
I can’t help but think of my bride today. To remember all the Easter’s we’ve spent together over the years and what this morning would be like if she were still here with us. What it would mean to her to share Easter this year with our two-year-old. It would be so, so special.
There’s a Bible verse that I have been thinking a lot about lately... John 3:30. It says, “He must become greater; I must become less.” I know that the context of the verse is John the Baptist talking about Jesus’ ministry growing as his will become less. But I think of that verse today because of Indiana. And because of Joey.
Indy has not asked for her mama. Not one single time since Joey’s been gone. It’s almost as if she hasn’t noticed that she’s not here. And that is so sad... and oh, so wonderful—all at the same time.
When we first got to Indiana in late October, Joey was Indy’s whole world. Everyone else was... well, just everyone else. Including me. She loved her mama so much and all she wanted was to be with her, beside her or in-sight of her. But in early November, when Joey started to realize that there was a good chance that she might not beat her battle with cancer, she made a decision... "he must become greater and I must become less."
And she started going against everything in her being that told her “time was short” so hold her baby even tighter... and longer... and more... and instead—she handed the baby to me, and sat alone in a bed and watched and listened as my relationship with Indy grew... and hers lessoned.
I still remember the day a few weeks later when I was sitting on the couch near Joey’s bed and Indy was playing on the floor at my feet and Joey looked over at me and said, “she needs you now...“ I looked at Joey and saw the look on her face and knew what she meant, and I wanted to cry. But she just smiled and said, “...it’s best this way honey.”
Who does that? Who has that kind of strength and character? Not me, that’s for sure. I would’ve taken the low, easy road... the one that served me more. I would’ve tried to make the ties with our baby stronger and her love for me deeper so that she wouldn’t forget me… and in the end, probably left our baby wrecked with grief over the loss of the one person she loved and needed most. But not Joey. She let Indy fall more in love with me... and less in love with her. She carried the pain on her own shoulders, to try to keep it off of mine. And even more so, off of Indy’s.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still lots of times in those last few months that I put Indy in her mama’s lap and they spent time together, loving and enjoying each other. But it was never the same. Indiana loved her mama... but she wanted me. She needed me.
Thank you, Joey.
No, Indy doesn’t quite understand what has happened. Why her papa is sad. Why friends hug us so tightly, and why tears fall from strangers’ eyes when they say hello to us. But she will. She may not realize right now how incredible her mama is, but she will. I have made a career out of documenting our lives, and her mother... with songs and videos and pictures and they are everywhere. I will play them for her. And tucked away in her little heart will be all of the beautiful memories of these first two years that she has shared with her mama and when the time is right, she will find them and they will make her smile. Yes, she will remember. I believe that.
Indy and I go and visit ‘mama’ every day.
We make the walk or ride into the backfield, to the spot where Joey rests and we sit down beside her temporary wooden cross. I talk with my bride about what has happened that day, and what I’m worried or excited about... and I share the latest thing that Indiana is doing.
And our little one plays in the grass beside the flowers. Listening. ‘Talking’ with her hands.
And for a little bit, we’re a family again. Indy is on Joey’s lap and the world is right.
Happy Easter my love.
We love you.