I often struggle with my identity since the death of my son. I am changed- forever. I mourn the me I used to be, while at the same time, I strive to make something positive of who I have become. I’m trapped in the unchosen life sentence of the before and after imposed by grief. A sentence that combines obsessive thoughts, guilt, fear and regret and wraps them tightly around me, threatening to suffocate me within the walls of my solitary confinement. The once vigorous me is replaced by a languid me. A new emotion now rages within me, one forged by the untamed union of love and grief.
I am not the same, yet one part of me has not changed. I am still a mother. A mother whose heart spans heaven and earth. Although six are present, one is always missing. Although the table is a buzz with stories of the day’s happenings, one chair is always empty. Although the chaotic noise of voices rumbles through the halls, the silence of one voice permeates the walls. Although the days are filled with the hopes and dreams of six young adventurers, a thousand dreams of one are left unfulfilled. Although I speak often of the tribulation and triumph of the six kids who still call my name, the fear of making others uncomfortable silences my lips to speak of one.
Motherhood is a world of tears; the result of joy and pain, laughter and exhaustion, pride and fear. The physical pain that launched my journey some 32 years ago was soon forgotten when that perfectly pink, bundle was laid upon my chest and forever carved into my heart. But, the pain of his loss I carry forever. I can temporarily quiet it, but it always rears its ugly head, striking again whether invited or not, whether expected or not. I fall into bed at night exhausted from its weight and wake each morning weary to carry its load again. My tears fall as liquid prayers that vacillate between beseeching the Father of Hope for the strength to face another day and giving Him thanks for the time given, though too short, as his mother.
I am still a mother. One who cannot escape the yearly date on the calendar that celebrates all the blessed women who are fortunate enough to play an incomparable role of influence in the lives of a child through birth, adoption, or some other emotional bond that makes them unique. My world of before and after is never more heart-rending than on Mother’s Day. The pain of my loss is especially poignant. The dichotomy of emotions whips like waves leaving me wanting to stick my head in the sand until the day passes. There is no pretending on Mother’s Day. It is a day full of hard because it is also good. The very definition of bittersweet. There are children who want and need to celebrate me and my own mother and mother-in-love, both are worthy of celebration. So, I carry on.
Please remember that I am still a mother. I didn’t choose to be this kind of mother, and for me and others like me, this day is hard. I am a mother to those on earth who fill my life with surprise visits, unexpected phone calls, carefully chosen gifts and handmade cards. But, I am also a mother to one who now resides at the feet of Jesus and lives on earth only within the confines of my heart. It is my life, the new me. I live, though part of me has died. I breathe, though grief suffocates. I laugh and I cry, sometimes over the same memory.
Though my heart is torn between heaven and earth, I will make it through this day. I call to my God of Hope who cradles me in His arms and holds my liquid prayers in a bottle. I wrap myself in the comforting embrace of His grace. He who granted me the blessing of being called mother, now holds my son in perfect keeping and He will sustain me through this expanse of time until I too sit at His feet and worship in a forever land where there is no more weeping.