Today I am tucked in bed listening to birdsong and thinking of dyeing eggs. But I haven’t started yet. See, no one is around to dye eggs with me. They have all gone away, two to Louisiana and two to Alabama and the rest to other Holy Saturday recesses. It shouldn’t, but it hurts. It feels like the big kid version of being the last one chosen for the kickball team, except now it’s ‘pairing off,’ and right now no one wants to play with me. “You have to make your own fun,” Mom says. “Invite people to do things with you.” Sometimes this works. Today it didn’t.
I’ve always associated dyeing eggs with rubbing elbows with my favorite people. It was a tradition in the Sloan family household, as sure as getting a toothbrush in our Easter basket. In college, a group of us would change clothes after Easter Vigil Mass, then crowd into a dorm kitchen and sing in harmony while we dunked hard-boiled eggs into colored bowls. A few years ago at a friend’s house, we passed Easter eggs around in a circle and each person added a different facial feature with a Sharpie.
This kind of festivity, while not necessarily liturgical, is what I love about being Catholic. Easter brings people together for simple, meaningful traditions. (As NCR reporter John Allen said, “Fundamentally, I don’t think the Catholic Church gets enough credit for being a hell of a lot of fun.”)
I hope to carry on the Easter egg dyeing tradition with my own family someday, again rubbing elbows with my favorite people. I envision my kids crowded around a table – fat young fingers carefully easing eggs into the vinegary mixes. I envision inventive designs that end in triumph, or tears, or both. I envision us sitting on the back porch step and peeling and eating the ‘duds.’ Maybe with those little salt and pepper packets from Wendy’s.
But that vision is not for today. Today is Holy Saturday, a hiccup. And a beloved activity with family and friends has decrescendoed to a girl and some birds and tablets fizzing in vinegar.
I wonder what Mary’s waking thoughts were the morning after the crucifixion. Did the events of Good Friday come flooding back even before she opened her eyes? Did she have to reckon with wishing it were a bad dream? What was the kind of loss she felt, the color of her hoping? Was his blood still on her clothes, her hands? And, when she rose from bed, what did she do that Saturday?
I will hop out of bed and dye eggs and listen to birdsong. Tonight I will attend Easter Vigil Mass, and tomorrow join friends for Easter dinner, but today I am alone. This is the part of being single that is like the tomb. I do not know what kind of loss I feel, nor the color of my hoping.