Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Ghost of Mother's Days Past

My very first Mother's Day was May 10th 1987.
We went to church that morning.
A couple we knew, came in with their new baby girl.
Overwhelmed with sadness 
I excused myself and ran to the women's restroom to hide.
I stood alone crying.

My baby girl was 2 months old in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
She'd been there since her birth, March 3rd.
By Mother's Day, she weighed 2 pounds.

Oh how my heart ached to hold her, 
to bring her home, 
to show her off at church.

Mother's Day touches deep emotions of pain, guilt, loss and heartache, 
even though we try to put on happy faces.

I did a little research and discovered that 
Anna Jarvis campaigned for Mother's Day 
as a way to honor and pay tribute to mothers. 
It became a holiday in 1914,
but horrified at what it became;
she spent the last years of her life trying to stop it.

In her mind,
it became a commercialized, 
consumerist monster.

She never married, 
never had children 
and died alone and broke.

What a sad legacy for a holiday supposedly honoring mothers.

Mother's Day arrives and there are those of us,
 who ache to have children, but can't. 
There are those of us who have lost our own mothers.
There are those of us who have lost our children.
There are those of us whose mothers were anything but motherly.

How then do we celebrate Mother's Day?

I sat across the table from my dear friend, Becky, last Thursday.
We are real with each other and I love that in a friend.
She's had great loss in her life and isn't afraid to share it.
She asked me how I was going to deal with Mother's Day this weekend.

"Fine!" I glibly answered.  "I've already done my crying."

And I showed her the necklace another precious friend, Jodi,
had given me in honor of my mother,
who passed away in 2012.

"I cried when she gave it to me" I said.  "So I don't have any tears left."
Foolish words.

I miss my mom, she was my biggest fan.  
I miss my grandmother, 
who left me a legacy of strength.

I've had many wonderful years of  Mother's Days in the past.

Breakfasts in bed, 
carried in on wobbly trays by little girls 
with smiles as big as the world.
Handmade cards and ceramic gifts, 
lovingly crafted, just for me.
Moments I cherish.

I hang tightly to them, 
because in the blink of an eye they are only memories.

Last night, we had our very first paying guests 
stay in the House in the Trees in our backyard.

They were a sweet family with 5 children.
I visited with them a bit while they ate their dinner.
Later, when it grew dark,
I secretly watched them sit around our fire-pit, 
playing guitar,
singing, laughing together. 
They reminded me of my family about 10 years ago.

"What a gift God has given us with the House in the Trees", 
I thought.
"It's a sacred place."

And then the tears came, 
the wave of grief smashing into me,
knocking me down,
pulling me under.

Cancer ripped those innocent, 
lovely days from my grasp.
Cancer in my four year old son in 2004 
was the moment
our way of life ended forever,
like a thunderbolt.

It's a loss so fathomless and sharp, 
I find it hard to even put into words here.

Those years of  young children, 
sweetness, laughter, and energy, 
all together in this house,
are gone,
prematurely snatched away. 

And they will never come again.

This Mother's Day, 
some of my children are spread across the globe: 
Britain, Ecuador, California, Vancouver.
And I miss them.

This Mother's Day my oldest daughter,
the tiny one who spent four months in the hospital when she was born,
is hosting a Mother's Day Brunch for me and her mother-in-law, Sharon. 

We are being honored!

How do we celebrate such an emotional, 
sometimes hard to navigate day?

We allow ourselves to grieve,
We allow ourselves to sit in the sorrow,
for a time.
And it will pass.

But we also allow ourselves to feel joy,
grateful joy.

Happy Mother's Day!