Mother’s Day was my most treasured holiday, ever since I was pregnant with my first and our Pastor announced our big news from the pulpit on Mothers Day, 1994. I was in a red dress and heels and I was beaming. A child. Mine. I had never known such thorough joy as I did then. Yet I never once contemplated what it may be like for others.
I would dress my boys in their button up shirts and ties for church on Mother’s Day. I was never more grateful for my life than on that day. All I ever wanted-my life was right there in those three boys who drew looks and smiles on a Sunday morning, and their handsome Dad. No, someone like me never crossed my mind then. I never had reason to consider a Mother who was suffering such a pain as child loss. It wasn’t intentional. It just would never happen to us.
And I just didn’t know.
I’m on the other side of Mother’s Day now. I am that person I couldn’t even think about before. There are so many of us. If ever there is a day for child loss literacy, it’s on Mothers Day- the day originally set aside to honor bereaved Mothers. Who needs more thought and love than one who lives through this day year after year without one of her children?
I come from a family of celebrator’s. I loved that about us. We celebrated each other and occasions with fanfare. Birthdays, straight-A report cards, musical accomplishments, the end of a school year and of course, Mothers and Fathers. We were home-made card makers, I loved that about us too. I remember painstakingly sketching out and coloring in flowers and writing “poems” for my Mom and my Grandmothers. I realize now what priceless treasures they must have been. He was an enthusiastic and wonderful card maker too. He was reserved and not one to gush, but when it came to his home-made cards, he bore his heart. I could never explain the ache in my soul for every occasion that passes without one of his cards. His swirly penmanship and big exclamation points.
You see, that is the other side of Mother’s Day. The one with no more home-made cards, or flower seedlings in hand-decorated cups. Mom’s like me will sift through boxes and look for ones from years past to try to feel our child’s love more freshly again. We’ll trace the pen marks their hand had made, kiss the paper it once touched and try to feel their arms wrapping around our waist again.
There will be parks full of family picnics and restaurants dressed in fresh flowers for fancy Mother’s Day brunch’s and dinners. The air will echo with children’s excited voices. Moms with their Moms and Grandmothers with their Grandchildren. Piles of crumpled wrapping paper will cover tables. Boxes of jewelry, framed photos of kids with trophies and bouquets of flowers will be carried home against a heart swollen with love.
But, on the other side of the park a Mom is leaning against her child’s grave. It’s her 5th Mother’s Day without her child, but it’s no different. Her eyes are closed and she is remembering her last real Mother’s Day, the one that was all laughter and love, not like today. Her hands still quiver on days like this and she tries to hear his voice and see his smile as clearly as her mind will allow. She is also carrying flowers but they aren’t for her. The only thing she’ll be carrying home are tear-soaked tissues and the thoughtless weeds that have wiggled up through the gravel. Her heart is swollen in pain. She avoids both restaurants and church on this day as it is just too hard to witness what should be her life, but isn’t.
At the end of the day Moms will kiss their children goodnight and thank them for the wonderful day- for the kisses, the cards and the seedling flowers in hand-decorated cups. They’ll peak in on them one more time, smiling at their sleeping faces before going to bed themselves. ‘Thank you Lord, I love them so.’, they’ll say as they kiss the tops of their sleeping heads.
On the other side of town another Mom kisses her children goodnight too. It’s been a bitter-sweet day of gratefulness sheathed in sorrow. Her heart is getting heavier as the day darkens. She hugs them a little tighter and little longer, she can’t help it. Her family is forever changed, forever split between two worlds. She wishes she could hold them forever because she knows how precious and fragile all life is. She only gets to kiss 2 of her children tonight, like every night. She goes to his room last. She stands still for a while looking around at everything, untouched since that day. His space, his things. Everything but him. She lays her head on his pillow wishing to the heavens it were his cheek she were touching and his heart she felt beating instead of her own. His pillow has been soaked so many times with her tears, it’s lost his scent.
‘Thank you Lord, for this child.’, she’ll say. I would rather have gazed on his face and known his precious life for this short time than never at all. He is part of me, he changed me. I will never be the same because he lived and loved me.
Because I know how deeply and desperately I have loved this child, I know how deeply and desperately you love us. I know how endless and voracious my love for this child STILL is and will ALWAYS be, so I know how endless and voracious your love for us will always be too. It’s without end, as you are.
Hold me Lord, like I would’ve held him. Tell me he’s OK like I would’ve told him.
My greatest sorrow is also my greatest love and I thank you regardless!
Thank you for making me his Mother. I would not trade being his Mother for anything in the world. Ever.
On this Mothers Day, hold all of your broken-hearted Mothers close to you, Lord. Help us to remember that somebody else knows this pain. You know this pain.
Remind us we are not alone.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. -Isaiah 43:2
There is no Mother more in need of love and acknowledgment than one who lives every Mother’s Day without one of her children. By sharing this post you may help the world to more understand this life ‘on the other side’ bereaved Mother’s have to live.
Click here for another post about Grieving Moms on Mother’s Day
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