Mother’s Day has always been an awkward day for me. I am not talking about when I was a child. When I was a child, Mother’s Day meant Sunday brunch at Reuben’s, the fanciest restaurant in Whittier, until at least the late 70’s and maybe even in to the 80’s, where I was allowed to order steak and eggs to celebrate my amazing mom. Mother’s Day became awkward in my adult life, after college, when people were either asking me when I was going to be an aunt, get married, or have children. The awkwardness intensified in the many years that my mama battled cancer and every Mother’s Day I would renew my pact with God that I would never ask for anything else if he would let me have children before He took my mama home to be with Him.
Mother’s Days were awkward in my family when my niece Louise was born to my brother Paul and sister-in-law Kym, with incredible challenges and we worried that she may not survive her many surgeries. And then my brother John and his wife Ann, and Mike and I entered many years of infertility, where Mother’s Day was a reminder of what we did not have, yet longed for with all our hearts.
My first Mother’s Day after my twins were born, I went to church excited to hear the sermon about Mom’s and have it finally apply to me. My mother was in remission so all was right in my little world. I almost stood up mid-sermon to leave when the pastor decided to speak on the topic of submission between husbands and wives, instead of give the if-you-are-a-mom-you-are-amazing sermon I had come for. It wasn’t long after that when I found out that my mom was back into the battle for her life. When she went to be with Jesus, my girls were 5 years old, and I felt God had blessed my children for being able to know their Nana in a meaningful way. However, it solidified for me a particular pain in the day we celebrate the women, who give their life for us.
My husband is a great celebrator. As his wife I feel honored on Christmas, birthdays and Mother’s Day in a way that is enviable to others. He authentically gets excited to make my day special and for that I will always feel appreciation. However, the wave of grief that accompanies Mother’s Day is often difficult to ignore, even in the great celebration.
Grief is a process, often life-long, where healing occurs only to be interrupted when a returning wave catches us in the moments of life that were meant to be shared with the person we have lost. We are forever changed when we lose our special someone, as we can no longer gather the support they offered in the difficult times or the joy they shared when we exhibit our best.
As a mom, this past week was a highlight as my girls were honored for their efforts in their individual pursuits. They each achieved long fought for prizes and as a mom, I got to bask. As hard as I try to push back the oncoming wave, it floods the celebratory space. I long for the days when I could share every high and low with the woman who felt my joy and pain like no other person in my life can do. However I also want to live life without the fear that the wave will interrupt the great moments or complicate the difficult times.
Reframing this experience, for those who experience waves of grief is important. While often difficult, waves of grief do allow our lost loved one a place in our life. They are not lost to a great unknown, rather their memory is honored. We are reminded, in these moments, of the treasure we were allowed on this earth and the legacy we are called to promote in our own lives. We are faced, in these moments with one of the ultimate keys to happiness: finding gratefulness for what was awarded to us, rather than dissatisfaction with what we lost too soon.
For those that grieve each Mother’s Day, my heart grieves with you….for the loss of a mother or the loss of a child or the loss of a dream. May this day continue to bring to your mind, the ways that you can grow as a nurturer, honor the legacy that shaped you and live grateful for the life you have been given.