It took a long time for me to open my heart to the holidays following my battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My diagnosis and conclusion all occurred around major holidays. I kept my heart open to the religious aspects of the holidays, but as far as the commercial end, I really wanted nothing to do with the “happy” part of holidays.
It took the adoption of my daughters, the return to the innocence of the holidays for me to once again look forward to the Easter bunny and Santa Claus. They would be raised with the religious aspects as well, but I can honestly tell you, there is nothing like the excitement and anticipation of watching your own children, rush downstairs in anticipation for what waited for them.
It was important that I carried on the traditions that I enjoyed as a child. With my daughters being Asian, tradition is something that is one of the most important things to the Asian culture, and I wanted them to know not only Asian traditions, but American as well.
With three families to visit on Easter, Easter was the only holiday that my father had top priority with my daughters. My dad really enjoyed this holiday with his granddaughters. An annual tradition, was having an Easter egg hunt in his back yard, followed by a high salt ham dinner, prepared by him. This continued until his passing in 2014.
My daughters also know this time period being difficult for me, as in 2008, just a few weeks after Easter, I learned the major way my life would change, due to late developing side effects caused from my cancer treatments. The first such side effect, I was dying from a “widow maker” heart condition, blockage of my heart, resulting in emergency open heart surgery.
Several years later, I filed for divorce. As is common with divorce, there has to be an agreement with custody. I do not refer to them as visitation, as I do not consider myself a visitor. I am the father of my daughters, and they are with me at certain times of the year as agreed.
Already mentioning holidays not having the same value as they would for their mother, I agreed to have my daughters spend the Easter holiday with their mother, while I would still have them during the Easter break period.
And that is how it has been for the years that followed, until now.
The hardest decision that I had to make, actually several times now, has been to cancel time with my daughters. The crisis with Corona Virus which has affected the world, has affected so many lives beyond just the health and safety levels.
While my daughters were not even born when I dealt with my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, they were there when I had my open heart surgery, and several other times, when I faced a medical emergency, including watching me be carried out of my home at 4am in the morning by ambulance, dying from septic pneumonia. I control what my daughters hear from me in regard to the virus itself, and the possible impact with me. But they definitely understand the risk and danger with the various exposures of travelling to see each other. While science points that the virus is not as much as a risk to youth, they do not want to see anything happen to me.
For the first time, I am unable to actually spend time with my daughters during this holiday period. And it does weigh heavy on my heart.
One thing that I have always done with them is spend at least some time, in church. Two years ago, I took them to the church where I used to run a youth group. On Good Friday every year, the church would hold a very somber service, entirely by its youth. It was a very powerful and symbolic service that would culminate in the service ending in darkness, and departing in silence, to wait for Easter. My daughters enjoyed that particular service. They understand the role of religion in my life, and what role I want it to play in their lives.
This virus has different plans though. And for the first time, there is no church for me, at least in person. It is not a hard decision, in spite of government officials not having the guts themselves to make the decision, not to physically attend church. With technology available, churches have a variety of resources to broadcast services, through radio, television, or streaming. In spite of this, there are still some churches that feel that it is their responsibility to hold services, even if God allows congregational members to contract and possibly die from the virus. It would be God’s plan.
That is not the God that I grew up with.
I have made the sacrifices that I have had to make in regard to spending time with my daughters, so that not only would I not contract the virus, but put others at risk. It really is not that much to ask, for a brief time period, to ask churches to do the right thing, and keep their doors closed, physically, not spiritually and technologically while our country does its best to eliminate this crisis. I want to spend time with my daughters as much as church goers want to attend church Easter Sunday. But lives depend on the decisions that we make.
For me, that decision is easy. Stay home.
Happy Easter. There is always next year.