Last Mothers Day is mostly a non-memory for me. My only recollection is sitting on the back steps of the cabin we were staying at, holding my husband and sobbing on his left shoulder while he talked to his Mom on the phone. I remember stifling my cries and thinking “I know he’s trying to talk to his Mom, but I just can’t stop.” And I couldn’t. I remember feeling like if I let go of him, I’d sink into the bowels of the earth and never make it out. The sorrow and pain was unhinging me. It was un-Godly every moment of a ‘normal’ day, but Mother’s Day…
So today, this feels like the first real Mother’s Day since….since….( how everything is now measured ) Because I’m coherent, because the protective fog is lifting. Clarity overshadows disorientation and I am facing 2 hard facts this Mother’s Day; 1. My little boy is gone and has left us shrouded in pain and torment. 2. My Mother is here, but also gone. Her mind a tangled mess where the people she loves most, myself included, can no longer be retrieved to her consciousness. Alzheimers disease. So she isn’t really here now and hasn’t been since… She doesn’t know of any of this. Whether that’s a curse or a blessing I haven’t decided. It depends on the day. Today it feels like a curse because I’ve needed her, missed her and longed for her care like no other time in my life. There is no other time in any woman’s life quite like this.
The mere sound of her voice, my name spoken through a phone line across the miles would always comfort and mend. The irony is that that is exactly why I couldn’t bear the sound of her voice for months after. To hear that voice would’ve destroyed me further. To be drawn in by it’s familiar sound, yearning for everything it’s capable of, only to face the reality of it’s hollowness now- devoid of all it’s Motherly perceptivity and healing.
I’m grieving her too because girls need their Mothers and if there were ever a time where a daughter needed the arms and voice of her Mother, it’s during the unimaginable. It’s now.
I don’t want Mother’s Day. I wish it would go away and take everything it used to mean to me away with it. There is no consolation in the “memories” of the joy this day used to bring. The precious hand-made cards and gifts the kids would make at school, walking into church bubbling over with gratefulness that the blessings of the world- everything I ever wanted and prayed for had been bestowed on me in my husband and 3 beautiful boys. I was full. Complete. Full of joy and purpose. Now Mother’s Day merely shines a light on how empty and wrong things are. A study in contrast of then and since…
But like everything else up to this point, it won’t go away. It will force itself in and demand to be dealt with. Just like Aiden and Mom- no choice in the matter. It just is. So I have found myself asking two questions this week, “How could you God?” and “What would you do if this were your child, Mom?” The former is a question for the ages, but the latter I’ve really needed to know.
The last memory I have of my Mother having any sense of “knowing” was March 9, 2015 in the chaos and upheaval that was unfolding in front of her after we got the news. She knew something was horribly wrong. Her face was contorted in worry and confusion and she wanted to pray. Like all of us, she couldn’t make sense of anything that was happening, but her solution was clear- go to Jesus.
Go to Him. Pray.
In my mind I tell her, “Mom, God is not the kind, loving Father you told me He was. He’s cruel and unfair and he abandoned me. He lied. His promises are empty. He took the most precious thing in my life and in the midst of that he’s taken you too. He’s altered the path of everyone in my family for the rest of our lives. We are broken, in unimaginable pain. He could’ve stopped it and He didn’t. I must endure my life without Aiden and I don’t want to. I don’t want to do this!”
I hear her say, “Honey, God IS love. It’s not what He does or doesn’t do, or what He allows or doesn’t allow, it is who He is. He can’t lie and He hasn’t left you or abandoned you. He is there, with you, crying beside you. I’m angry too and He bloody well have some answers when I meet Him face to face. But it doesn’t change who I know Him to be. We are not immune to the evil and cruelty of life. Look at me! He didn’t promise a life free of struggle and pain, He promised to be with you through it. He promised you would have the tools to persevere-Him, His word and His Holy spirit, and you do. You do Jen.”
“I don’t want to do this Mom. I don’t want to live without Aiden.”
“Jen you have a husband and 2 sons who love you and need you. Your work here is not done. You will live and you will live strong and well for them. They may need to look at your life for guidance some day and they will see a Mother who loved them enough to keep going when she wanted to die. They will see a Mother who is fighting Hell itself, but has grabbed her family with both arms and is holding on for dear life to keep them OK. You will do it for them and Jesus will be with you every awful step of the way. Someday those boys will hold their own child, and at that moment they will know what you did for them, what you endured because of your enduring love for them.
And Jen, can’t you see what you’ve done already?”
No. All I can see is what is still in front of me and I’m tired and it hurts all the time.
“You’re like me Jen, you’re a fighter. You won’t let the injustice of this take one more thing from you. We don’t take anything sitting down and you haven’t. You are persevering. You have the very grace of God, His strength and the hope of eternity with Him and Aiden in you! The hope you have always known is in you somewhere, Jen. It’s buried in pain and confusion right now, but it’s there- don’t lose sight of that. Find it and let it propel you forward. Let it propel you to Jesus, not away from Him. Eternity is in His hands. Eternity with Aiden is in Him. I wish I could fix this, I wish I could take your pain, but I can’t.”
I need you Mom.
“I can’t be there for you Jen. But someone much more capable than I am is there with you. ”
“Go to Him. Pray.”
My answer. Her words as I’m sure they would be, transcending earthly disease and earthly suffering to point me Home.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.