First and Last Easter by S. Severin

First Easter

It was our first Easter together.  I was in a good mood, springtime in Chicago can do that to a person. The Easter displays were up and I decided to do the Easter shopping. I had all the essentials: fake grass, an assortment of candy, an Easter basket, and of course eggs and coloring.

I headed home very excited to color Easter Eggs and make the Easter Basket. I was 22 and it was my first Easter since moving out of my parent’s house. I was thrilled to be the boss of the coloring.  My mother and I had colored Easter Eggs every year of my life and now was my turn to continue the tradition. I got home and started pulling all the Easter accouterment out of the bags.

I called out as I unpacked my purchases, “I bought the grass and the basket. I only got one basket for the house. I don’t think we need one for each of us. (my nod toward adulthood) Although, I have chocolate bunnies for both of us and one for your brother Larry.”  Who was staying with us at the time.

Chris walked in to help me and said, “The basket?”

“Yeah the Easter Basket. I didn’t think we really needed two we can share.”

I finally looked up and saw Chris smiling at me bemused.

Suddenly I was embarrassed.  Reading the look on his face, I realized that perhaps most adult men, even us gay ones, don’t color Easter Eggs and have Easter Baskets.  It had not occurred to me until that moment that maybe Chris, my 32-year-old boyfriend, didn’t color Easter Eggs.  I felt like a foolish child.

Chris saw my embarrassed look and swung into action.

“So, when were you planning to color the eggs?  Let’s do it now. Why wait?”

I knew he was trying help me save me face.  I was tentative and embarrassed but eager.

“Are you sure you want to color Easter Eggs?  It’s silly.  We don’t have to.”

“Of course, I want to color Easter Eggs!  It’s Easter, isn’t it?”, as if every adult in the free world colored Easter Eggs.  It is why I loved him.

So, we colored the Easter Eggs.  It was a bit of an education for Chris because clearly, he had not done it in years, if at all.  But we had fun boiling the eggs, waiting for them to cool, figuring out the coloring kits. I preferred the type where you placed droplets of color on a bowl of water and swirl your eggs in, they come out multicolored and fabulous. Mom and I had decided those were the best years ago.

When his brother Larry got home and saw the Easter Basket and the eggs, he just rolled his eyes and went to his room.  Chris called out,” Fine, we’ll just eat your chocolate bunny.”


Last Easter

Four years later we had our last Easter together. Chris had just gotten out of the hospital.  A hospital stay I was told he would not survive.  But here he was and doing remarkably well, considering he only survived four more months before he succumbed to AIDs.

We had finished our morning routine, a much too complicated process. It’s amazing how even the little things, like getting out of bed, become a struggle when you’re sick. Chris was out of bed, he was situated in his chair, I had given him his medicines and injections and we had finished breakfast.  He looked up and said, “So when are we doing the Easter Eggs?”

“I wasn’t sure if we were going to do them this year.”, I replied.

“It’s Easter isn’t it?  Of course, we’re coloring Easter eggs!”

Fortunately, I had bought all the essential Easter paraphernalia.  Those Easter displays get me every time.

So, I boiled a half dozen eggs.  Let them cool and then helped Chris to the dining room where I had set up coloring central.  He managed to get one egg dipped and then needed to get back to his chair.  “Maybe you should finish them.  You got my chocolate bunny, right?”, he asked.

“Of course, I had.”


*Featured Art by Julie Lloyd 


Stan is a lifelong Chicagoan who grew up in the South Suburbs, graduating from DePaul University and later Northwestern University. For NPR he wrote about his experience during COVID and how it mirrored his experience during the AIDS crisis. This was not his first pandemic. He is working on a memoir about his experience during the AIDS crisis in the late 1980's. This piece is an excerpt from that work.

A lifetime resident of Oregon, Julie Lloyd finds inspiration in nature where she makes art images from pressed flowers and plant life. Her artwork has evolved from simple bookmarks to complex images of fairies, people, and abstracts including collages. She enjoys extending the life of plants into visual, positive images for a wide audience to enjoy.

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