It’s raining and cold this morning. The kind of cold that causes shivers right down to the bone. I’m tired from an exhausting week of work yet the weekend of looming celebrations is swirling around in my head. This weekend is Mother’s Day, my grandson’s 8th birthday and the 33rd anniversary of the death of my fiancé, Craig. B.I.T.T.E.R.S.W.E.E.T.
This time of year, after many years of grieving, I still feel that same icky jolt that I first did when loss was too new, too raw. Death and absence are a constant of life, not a variable, and we have to decide who we’re going to be in the midst of them. Losing a loved one acquaints you to this certainty at painful hyper speed. My plans, my relationships and my character were forever rerouted.
Grief changes you. Big things grow bigger, and little things shrink from their former importance. “If I can get through this,” I thought, “then nothing will be too difficult.” But after 33 years, I’ve found that there is no “through.” I’m always in it (and often so are many of the people in my life). Time heals nothing. Grief is forever the unwelcome guest. We hate what it snatched from us.
Eventually, we are no longer swept up in the immediacy of death. I’ve learned that the bittersweet truth about death, for me, was that I was stronger, more purposeful and I didn’t just survive, I lived past the regret, the pain, the guilt of feeling renewed joy and happiness and found a way to continue on in meaningful ways. That although rerouted, life was full and laughter filled my heart again. And celebrations were important to me even though the sting in my heart remained.
My precious grandson was born on May 9th, 2009, exactly 25 years after my loss. The day he was born, I looked to heaven and whispered a prayer of gratitude. I felt that a kind of redeeming gift was given to me that day. A gift of joy. It felt like hurt and healing all at the same time. Happy birthday, Jake! You are sweet and loving and accepting and I love you to the moon and back.
And then there is Mother’s Day. I am grateful to have my mother to celebrate year after year. She truly is a rock. My mother is the strongest person I know. My mothers was everything for me when I was small. For everything that I needed – I called my momma. I was terrified of storms, she was my protector from all perceivable dangers. She kissed away my wounds and during my loss she stood by my bedside praying. Numerous times I remember her quoting Psalms 91 to my weeping heart. I often ran to her for a warm hug and love. There is simply no way I can ever really thank her for all she has done for me. She is the one who was awake all night when I was sick (which meant she would suffer a migraine headache for the lack of sleep). She is the one to wake up early in the morning to make sure our clothes and meals were ready and then endured all our tantrums. She never complained. She worked herself to exhaustion as we wasted the hours away. She taught me to love unconditionally. To give to those who needed what I was able to give. To forgive endlessly and free myself of bitterness. She encouraged me to be true to myself and believed that I had gifts that were important and valuable to the world. I never understood how she did it..kept going, smiling and giving when I know that there were times she had no remaining strength. Now that I am grown, she hasn’t stopped. Now, she gives to her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She and my dad are coming to NZ in a couple of months because my daughter will be delivering a baby. My daughter told me the other day how comforting it was that she was on her way because she is the most supporting woman she knows. I could visibly see the relief on her tired face.
As bittersweet as this holiday is for me personally, I know that for many woman across the world, Mother’s day holds an array of ominous emotions. Woman who long to celebrate but the pain of loss is overwhelming. There is a wide spectrum of mothering to be considered. I am sharing Amy Young’s tribute to all mothers; the living, the lost, the new, those who long to be, the disappointed, the single moms, and all others within the spectrum. You are all to be celebrated, remembered, prayed for and loved. You are all important and vital to our lives and we desperately want you to know that we our lives are better because you have shared your life with us.
The wide spectrum of mothering
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be – we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst.
We remember you.
By Amy Young