I’m sitting on my sofa, on the eve of Mother’s Day, in a silent house. My husband took my kids on a walk and left me at home for some quiet time and to prep to serve as a moderator for our Church’s online services.
And while a bit of silence is sweet, it can be strangely deafening. Do you know what I mean? We don’t often let things get quiet these days. So when the quiet takes over, it seems like all of the things we’ve been pushing down, all those voices, all the to-dos, all the what-ifs, they all come bubbling to the top, each trying to scream over top of the other, vying for attention.
This Mother’s Day is a new one for me. One that I didn’t anticipate until I was much older. It’s the first in my life where I can’t take flowers to my own Mom. Deafening silence. Bizarre. Not-ok. Too weird to reconcile.
Yesterday, the grief deep inside me must have known it was coming because I just could not shake a heaviness off of me. It’s amazing how our bodies preemptively process things that our minds aren’t ready to comprehend.
It’s been almost seven months until I sat beside my Mom’s bed, held her hand, and walked her Home. To heaven, the place she was ultimately made for. And though it’s been seven months, it feels like yesterday and an eternity ago all at once. Time is funny like that. It just keeps flying, but our mind can recall moments from 20 years ago as though they were just yesterday.
And today, my body and mind still know what it began to warn me of yesterday: grief is still just as real and the hole your Mom left can’t and won’t be filled. Nor should it.
My Mom was an incredible woman. Certainly not without her faults, but for those who knew her you, I’m sure, would echo, she had so many gifts. She was a woman of intense determination; she would stay up til all hours of the night to complete one hair-brained project that she conceived at 10:30 pm. Because as she would say, “nothing would happen if it weren’t for the last minute.”
She was immensely creative; her ability to draw something, come up with a beautiful scheme for an event, write a skit or a full-on Christmas play, make a meal out of whatever was leftover in the fridge or pantry, all left people to wonder if there was anything she wasn’t good at.
She saw people. I mean, truly saw people. I think because of her background, a very rough home life, a tumultuous first marriage, and a second marriage that took a while for her to finally let down her guard, she was able to understand so many different people right where they were. She was able to sit right next to them, listen, understand the depths of their hurt, and then, with confidence, assure them that God is good and He would sustain them through it. She wasn’t afraid to tell anyone what God had brought her through. And she was determined to get you to believe that He could do the same for you.
She was absolutely hysterical. I think growing up with eight siblings, five of whom were boys, kind of forces you to be silly. She knew the benefit of a good laugh. After her brother’s funeral, when everyone was back at home, she and her sisters donned my grandmother’s black slips and did a dance to “Cabaret.” Strange, yes, but fond memories for everyone who was there. She and my aunts came up with shows for other family events, like the “New Zoo Review,” where they celebrated my Grandparents through “roasting.”
She was quick-witted. She could hold her own in any verbal sparring match. She also loved to learn and would take copious notes during church; always very studious. When our church offered Bible classes through a local university for no-credit, just fun, she sat confidently under their teaching, soaking up all she could. In her 40s she went back to college, not having completed even HS, finished her GED, maintained honor roll, and got her Associates Degree. She planned on continuing all the way to her Bachelors, but Alzheimers got in the way.
I need to do this more often. I need to remember her in her good days. I need to celebrate the woman she was. And recognize how much I’m like her. These last 5 years were so hard. She was almost nothing like the woman I knew growing up. You see, Alzheimers ravaged her brain, body, and personality. She became scared, cynical, angry. And while those things were part of her all her life (probably much more than she cared to admit), she was able to use her self-control and not let them be WHO she was. Alzheimers took that self-control away.
But, I’m losing focus. This Mother’s Day, it’s hard. It’s different. It’s a new kind of sacred. It has to be. Because I am a mom too. I have three kids and another growing inside me. I can’t let grief swallow me whole. I don’t want to let it. I want to rejoice in who my Mom was, in who she made me to be, and then walk confidently, just as she did, in my mom-hood, trusting that God is just as in control of my circumstances as He was of her’s.
So, in an ode to her, that’s what I’m going to try and do with tomorrow. Let grief bubble up as it might, be real with my emotions, let them be a part of our day. But then I want to be fully present with my kids. I want to be able to look them in the eye and rejoice in them just as I know my Mom did for me.
Because as much as we want Mother’s Day to be about us, it really is about our kids. It’s about passing on to the next generation all that we’ve learned and enjoy. It’s about sitting with our families, with our loved ones, with our adopted family members, and rejoicing in the miracle of Motherhood. That we get to open our wombs, our hearts, our lives to another generation beyond us. We get the beauty, the sacred task, of shaping the future.
So, here’s to all the moms, whether they’ve given birth physically, emotionally, or spiritually. If you’ve spoken life into anyone else, encouraged a friend, mentored a young lady, helped guide a co-worker, you’ve stepped into the role of mother, and we are ALL the better for it.