Today is Mother’s Day.
I find myself, once again, honored as a mother and feeling like the complete opposite.
This day is different. It is different for mothers that have both living and dead children. It is different for mothers that never got to hold their children. It is different for mothers that never got to hear their baby cry. It is different for mothers that have never experienced the loss of a child. It is different for mothers that have strained relationships with their children. It is different for mothers that are patiently, or impatiently, expecting their first child. It is different for me. How often does it occur? For a mother of an infant that passed to be so close to the miracle of new life on this special day, but having all joy just out of reach?
Every year, I find a way to honor my mother (usually through a Facebook post). This year, I am finding it hard to celebrate the day in any way. I have one baby in heaven and one in my belly, but my heart and my arms still feel more empty than I can say. I guess that this post is my way of honoring my mother on this special day. She is, after all, the reason I am stronger than people know. She is the reason I am able to still live a full life, the reason I am able to write this.
Most don’t know that I have a sister that never got a chance to live. My little sister was very sick and was stillborn. My mother knows the very specific pain it is to bury a child. I have watched her over the years on different occasions and seen the pain that is always there, just under the surface. I have read the journal she kept when she was initially going through the loss. I have seen the love and sorrow in her eyes as she has spoken about her little Gerry Margaret. After I lost Marc, I had the honor of looking at the scrapbook she made for my little sister. It includes the one and only picture of that sweet, beautiful baby. Though she went through that, she is an amazing and strong woman. Watching her and how she deals with her pain has made me a stronger woman. Watching how she made the best of her trauma has made me a stronger woman. Watching the faith that she displays has made me a stronger woman. Watching her is proof that even after a loss as great as a child, life can still be bearable and even full of joy!
She has five living daughters that love her enormously and one that is looking down on her from heaven. She has one grandson that she is waiting to meet and one that is looking down on her from heaven.
My mother is strong.
But she didn’t get there on her own. She had someone to watch and learn from too.
Most don’t know that I have two uncles whose lives were over much too soon. Most don’t know that I have two uncles that never got a chance to live. My grandma gave birth to very healthy twin boys. She took them home and cared for them and loved them until SIDS claimed them at only six months of age. My grandma also had a set of twin boys that was stillborn. My grandma knows the very specific pain it is to bury a child. By the time I knew about Pat and Mike, it had been long enough since the loss for me not to be able to detect the pain and sorrow (not to mention the fact that I was not as adept at reading it as I am now). I know she still mourns the loss of her beautiful boys. She knows the immense pain it is and she has done her best to support my mother, my aunt, and I through our losses. She supported her daughter Eileen through the loss of a son when he was in an accident at nineteen years of age. And, truly, I have been amazed watching the grace and poise with which my aunt handles everything that is thrown her way. She has made the very best of everything since that day and she expels generosity and love instead of bitterness and hate. In a way, my grandma’s experience makes her the perfect support, having such personal first-hand experience with this singular kind of loss. I can’t imagine the unique agony it has been for her to lose her infant sons, watch her daughter suffer a stillbirth, watch another daughter lose an adult son, and watch her granddaughter lose an infant son, her great-grandson. Her unyielding faith has made us stronger women. Her loving support has made us stronger women. She is proof that even after a loss as great as four children, life can still be bearable and even full of joy!
She has seven living children that love her enormously and four that are looking down on her from heaven. She has twenty-one living grandchildren and three that are looking down on her from heaven. She has seventeen living great-grandchildren, two that she is waiting to meet, and three that are looking down on her from heaven.
My grandmother is strong.
My Aunt Eileen is strong.
Without these women, I don’t know where I would be. They are who I look to when I need an example of strength and love and compassion. I love them more dearly than most anything. I know, because of them, that life has been, is, and will be beautiful. I know, because of them, that I can get through anything that comes my way. I know, because of them, that I am strong.
Strong mothers raise strong daughters.
So, I will be okay today. I will happily accept all the wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day” that come my way, even though it hurts just a bit. Today is bearable. Maybe tomorrow will be full of joy!
Happy Mother’s Day.
Marc @2 days.