Rosie’s lively, ragtag neighbor friends, whom I’ve referred to as “corner friends” and “fireflies” and sometimes as “the Baker Street irregulars,” have a new baby. There are six half-siblings now, living with their mother, their lively grandmother and their step-grandpa in a house that I expect to collapse like an overstuffed cardboard box any minute.
Grandma is being very responsible for the Baker Street Irregulars. In the times before the pandemic, they were outside tumbling around the yard from dawn to dusk on sunny days. Now they go outside for fresh air at certain intervals, but are mostly kept safe inside the house. I hear them giggling and quarreling early in the mornings, and I miss them.
I miss everyone and everything, even the things that used to get on my nerves.
I never even got to see the baby, since she was born shortly before this nightmare began. I’ve only gotten to have shouted conversations with Grandma– me carefully masked at the bus stop and her leaning on the front porch railing across the yard. Once, the baby’s elder sister toddled out to the porch to blow a kiss and an air hug at me. This is how we stay friendly, in the age of COVID-19.
“That one is such a blessing,” said Grandmother. “She wakes up every morning and makes me turn on the praise music. Then she wakes up grandpa and makes him clap with her.”
“Start the day with Lauds,” I agreed. “That’s the way to do it!”
Grandma told me that she’s glad the food pantry is giving out bags every week during the pandemic, or she didn’t know how they’d get by. There was even Easter candy included with the meat and vegetables in her latest bag. She was sad the churches are closed, however. “I want to go to church. I don’t care what church, it don’t matter. I just want to be with Jesus at Easter.” But she’s glad to have video preaching and planned to sing hymns all Easter day. The Baker Street Irregulars, meanwhile, are sad there won’t be an Easter Egg Hunt.
“Maybe you could have a small one, indoors,” I suggested, and then my bus came.
That was when I had a brainstorm.
I realized I had been remiss. I’ve been telling people that we weren’t supposed to hoard any groceries, but I’ve been holding onto eggs like a dragon sitting on her pile of gold. We had four dozen from the big discount box at Wal Mart, but I was afraid to use them. I had been looking up egg-free recipes to bake and avoiding eggs at breakfast, just in case we couldn’t get out, just in case we were really quarantined and couldn’t leave the house at all. You can order dry goods online, but I didn’t know how we could get eggs.
There is a line between caution and fear, prudence and selfishness, and I’d crossed it yet again.
When I was at Aldi on Good Friday, I bought a few more cartons, but not for me this time.
Well, not all for me. I made a Japanese omelette for a meatless Good Friday meal, and another for breakfast on Holy Saturday morning. Then Rosie and I set up my biggest pots and started boiling.– almost seventy eggs, because we knew some would break. We got out paper cups and spoons left over from her birthday party and started dyeing them– three packs of dye, stickers, glitter, wax crayon that shows through the water-based pigment.
I love coloring eggs. I like making pysanky and painting on eggshells as well, but I also just like cheap and easy Easter egg dye. The past few years, without a permanent parish to go to and being separated from the rite of the Church I love best, I’ve been so depressed that I didn’t even want to dye eggs. But making them for other people renewed my passion. Rosie is also just at the age where she can be particular about egg colors. We made some with messages written on them, some with glitter or stickers, and some plain. Some were just scribbled on with white crayon for a marbling effect. Some we took out of the dye right away for pastel color and some we left in the dye for upwards of an hour until they were very bright.
I cracked a few more eggs to make a cake for Easter dinner. And then we put aside our earthly cares and watched the Easter Vigil on a livestream.
This morning, Rosie woke up to something that looked more like Christmas than Easter– we’d gotten a dollhouse and some Fortnite action figures on clearance a long time ago and squirreled them away for a special occasion, so they were waiting next to her basket. She hunted for the two dozen eggs I’d made for us to admire and eat, hidden around the living room. We also gave her a bag of hollow plastic eggs for her, but I’d run out of ideas of anything to put in them.
I cracked more eggs to make gluten-free cinnamon rolls and put them in the oven.
There was just enough time to sneak over to the Baker Street Irregulars’ house with a large package of bright Easter eggs– plus a basket of marshmallow Peeps and a pack of soap bubbles and wands. At the last minute, Rosie took some of her own Easter candy and stuffed five plastic eggs for the five children who were old enough eat candy, and added those to the basket.
We snuck over to the neighbor’s porch, knocked on the door and ran– not fast enough that Grandma didn’t see us.
“God bless you!” she called.
“Hallelujah!” I replied.
We went home to grab the cinnamon rolls out of the oven.
And then the Easter Bunny arrived.
I heard the irritating song about Peter Cottontail playing out of a tinny loudspeaker and ran to the window. There was a fire truck, driving slowly up the one-way street in grim LaBelle, with a six-foot white rabbit standing in the hook and ladder waving at nobody. We ran out to the sidewalk to wave back; I even ran to the corner to wait for him and wave again as he went down the next street the opposite way. The mall Easter Bunny found himself out of a job this year with the stay-at-home order; the Fort Steuben mall is closed and no children can get their picture taken with him in the usual way. So they arranged for this instead, to lift everybody’s spirits. The bunny has been touring local neighborhoods all weekend, and that was our visitation.
It’s not that life isn’t a descent into hell lately. But the message of the Gospel is that Heaven took our death to Himself and descended into hell to break it open. When you find yourself in hell, look for Heaven. Stop hoarding eggs and have some fun doing what Heaven would do instead.
I’d forgotten that rule, but this weekend I remembered.
That’s my Easter conversion.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross.
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