This week, I was driving half an hour to physical therapy for my shoulder, which had been bothering me for several months, after a fall. It's a drive I've made innumerable times since we moved to the San Diego area 37 years ago. For some reason, as I drove along the divided parkway, dotted with trees covered in pink and purple blooms, I unexpectedly realized that I was happy. I have had moments, hours, and days of happiness since my beloved husband died, but I can usually point to a reason--a member of my family or a friend is coming for a visit or I finished a big project that had been hanging over me for a long time. My trip to France with my son in 2019 was a wellspring of happiness, both in the anticipation, in the actual experience, and in the delightful memories afterward. But on this particular day, I was just going through the routine of things I needed to do on an ordinary day, and happiness burst upon me suddenly very much as my orange tree had gone from a couple of blossoms to a vast cloud of white with a fragrance that carried from the back of the house all the way to the front yard.
This happiness carried me through Holy Week, as I reflected on the many people whose friendship has sustained me in the years since my beloved husband died. I looked forward to being with my two oldest daughters and their families, as well as my son. I am very conscious of the fact that this year I can attend the Easter Vigil at my parish instead of being home alone and watching the Mass being live-streamed. In addition, I won a raffle run by the Knights of Columbus for reserved seats and parking spaces for the Easter Mass of my choice. Every other year for the past 12 years, I was playing French horn in our church choir and had my own chair. But this year, I came to the Vigil, and found my seat, with a pot of tulips next to it and an Easter card from the parish staff saying that they were glad my name had been chosen. My daughter and her family's reserved seats were just outside, since they haven't been vaccinated and felt safer sitting there. All of us had front row seats for the blessing of the new fire and the Easter candle, and for the Baptisms and Confirmations of the catechumens and candidates, among whom were many children, with the little girls in their First Communion dresses and the little boys in small suits. By next year, I hope our choir will be back together in church, but we will then be sitting at the full length of the church from these special moments. This year, it was wonderful to be celebrating them together and being so close as lives were transformed and joy radiated from their faces. It was an Easter I will always treasure.