Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Childless Mother on Mother's Day

This is my third Mother's Day without my daughter Avery. She died suddenly in a car accident about 6-8 minutes after my oldest daughter, Jadrian (who was 17 years old and driving) pulled out of the parking lot after Avery's gymnastic practice let out. She was on her way to church youth group.

This is my third Mother's Day with a huge gaping hole in my heart. And my third Mother's Day being utterly disappointed, forgotten and let down. I could go on and on but really, what would it change? Let it be known that when my time finally arrives to have a sit down with Jesus, I'm going to ask him to explain why he had me experience the single most difficult emotional thing a mama could ever go through with someone who expresses zero emotion whatsoever.

That being said, I'm here to help all those other men in the world who claim to have no idea what to do on Mother's Day for the Childless Mother in their life. Maybe you messed this Mother's Day up. Maybe the last three or more. But you can decide to want to do better.

(1.) Do SOMETHING. Doing nothing hurts. It just does. Continuing to avoid the pain of the day like it doesn't exist makes the hurting worse. By a lot.

(2.) Plant a flower, bush or tree that blooms in her child's favorite color. It's beautiful to watch something continue to grow and bloom over time. It's kind sucky to have to throw dead flowers away after a too short blooming life in a vase. We're kind of tired of death, you know?

(3.) Have a her favorite photograph of her child printed on canvas. Or enlarged and framed really nicely.

(4.) Jewelry with all the kids names or initials - even the ones who passed - yes, please.

(5.) Find a picture of her child and have an artist rendering done of it. Pencil sketch, charcoal, oil paint - it doesn't matter really. It's knowing that someone spent their time and talent looking into the face of her angel. With each brush stroke her child was seen.

(6.) Find a picture that her child drew or colored and have that framed nicely.

(7.) Take the remaining kids for a professional photo and be sure to include a picture of her child who had passed. All her children made her a mama. Not just the ones still living on earth.

(8.) Do something special at her child's grave. Clean it up. Spruce it up. Leave a little mother-child figure or some flowers or a wind chime.

(9.) Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Grieving mamas tend to be a tad tight from trying to hold it all together for the remaining people in their lives.

(10.) Acknowledge. Say something. Write it in a card. Hold her hand and look in her eyes while saying it. Tell her that you know it's a hard day to walk through - but that you're there.

Mother's Day can be a hard day but doing something special to acknowledge her angel can also bring immense joy.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

I Still Need Holding Up

I still need holding up.

Not like it was in the beginning. Not all the time anymore. But I still need it.

I still know that there are times I cannot do this grieving thing alone and yet, as time goes by and lives continue and the busy gets busier, I find the circle of people standing beside me, ready to hold me up gets smaller and smaller.

And it should. That's how it needs to happen. Trust me, this isn't on them at all.

See, when tragedy first strikes it's actually those furthest out from the strike zone that are the strongest to hold things together. The closer the relationships get to the one who passed away, the weaker they are.

In my case, my daughter died. I couldn't expect my other daughter to hold me up - her sister had just died. I couldn't expect my parents to hold me up - their granddaughter just died. I couldn't expect my sister or brothers to hold me up - their niece just died. I couldn't expect my cousins to hold me up - their relation just died. Her friends were grieving, her teachers were grieving, her coaches were grieving, her teammates were grieving.

We were all a mess.

So it was this outer ring of protection -- co-workers, neighbors, people in the church, community members, old classmates from school, even strangers on the internet -- they were the strength that held it together so they could hold us when we couldn't stand.

But now that the example of how to hold strong during a storm has been given - now that the lesson has been taught, it is time for them move on.

One by one we each got stronger. That, too, has a certain cadence to it. The furthest ones out recover first. The closer the relationship to the deceased, the harder it is to heal.

It was as if every one was suddenly stricken down, paralyzed in one fell swoop... but some of us managed to sit up in a wheelchair, and some got crutches before others... and soon some dropped their crutch and steadied their walk back into the world way before the others... we were - are - all in various stages of literally picking ourselves up and walking back among the normalcy of this life. (Whatever that means.)

There are times though, when I still feel like I'm laying on a piece of cold concrete all by myself, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, during a thunderstorm. And I can't get my legs to work. And I can't get my voice to speak (because I wouldn't know what the words should be that would make anyone understand). And all I see is everyone around me skipping happily off into the distance - making phone calls and responding to texts, laughing at tv shows or getting a haircut that has to happen today and can't possibly wait until Monday, when the deep sorrow of a Mother's Day without has passed.

Yes, I still need holding up. Or else I just need to be okay laying here for a bit until I have enough energy to do it on my own.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

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