Once upon a time, I didn't think much about death.
I was young, and while there were of course disappointments, I had good grades, excellent health, and a bright future. I loved Jesus, and of course I knew that His death and resurrection were central to my faith, but I knew this in my head. My heart was focused on life - on the joy of being in God's presence, on what God was calling me to do for Him.
Death is now part of my story. I cannot explain who I am without talking about those I have lost. I cannot explain who I am without talking about the parts of me that died along with my girls.
Easter matters more to me now. In my grief, it is often hard for me to stand in church and sing songs of worship. I don't always feel like rejoicing, and I struggle to join wholeheartedly in the songs we sing about God's goodness and faithfulness. But when we sing about the resurrection, something stirs deep inside me, and my voice becomes loud and strong.
Christ has risen from the dead, trampling over death by death . . . Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! The glory of God has defeated the night! (Matt Maher, "Christ Is Risen").
I sing these words, and I picture Lily's grave. I think about the terrible emptiness of life without her and without Avaleen. And I think about Jesus on the cross and about the empty tomb.
And in these moments, when we are singing these words, I realize that in spite of all my doubts, I do believe in the risen Jesus.
I still feel the sting of death, but also I rejoice, more deeply than before, in the powerful beauty of the resurrection.