A Letter to the Mother I Never Wanted to Be

We mothers will never forget those precious moments when we held our children in our arms for the very first time. We cuddled our babies, sniffing these little miracles swaddled in blankets as we stared in awe of what we have just experienced.  Overflowing with unconditional love for our children, our hearts are forever changed. We would instantly sacrifice our own lives for these blessings from above. Our minds are etched with memories that eternally transform us from the inside out.

To be a mother. The most difficult job on earth but the most rewarding.  A job we fantasized about as children ourselves, never imagining the possibility of how a little being would change our lives, never once considering life without our children as we are caught up in explicit joy, when life couldn’t be more perfect.  We map out all of our children’s milestones and birthdays, planning for a successful and blissful future, down to the last detail.

Then suddenly without warning the day comes when circumstance out of our control happen and our child’s time here is over, forcing us to say goodbye. What? No one tells you this is even a possibility when your child is born.  Would that alter our perspective on wanting to be mothers? Would the pain be too much to bear, diverting us from embarking on such a journey?  Possibly.

Yet, no matter how long our children stay with us on earth, we are mothers forever and our souls are permanently changed.

We often lose ourselves as we are submerged in deep grief.  The connection with our souls and outside world is severed and we board the unpredictable emotional roller coaster for the rest of our lives.  We regulate the bundle of tears that lies just beneath the surface, waiting to flow when we are pierced with moments of sorrow.

We are unrecognizable from the mothers we used to be. We struggle to find ourselves in our new, and unfathomable journey, wondering why this had to happen to us.

Who are we? Honestly, I’m not sure. We know we are still mothers, however, we have become mothers we never wanted to be.  Mothers, who if honest would tell you the last time we cried was in the darkness of night just a few hours earlier.  A mother who keeps silent the internal struggles she faces as the sun rises every day knowing her child is not in her arms.

We long to remember how it physically felt to hold our children and their unique sweet scent we would give anything to smell again.

We retreat from the activities and events of others with children the same age, ridden with secret jealousy as we hide from the realization that our children will never get to experience such wonderful times.

Our Saturday nights turn from dinners with friends and social engagements to sitting in our pajamas wrapped in blankets on our beds frantically searching for online support, desperate to share our children and find someone who can be with us in our moment.

We madly try to erase those vivid images of our children’s last moments, those casket bearing pictures of unbelievable traumas that couldn’t possibly have been real.

We are mothers who have lost their motivation for life, who have become self-critics rehashing everything they should have done differently, obsessed in guilt.  Mothers who are vulnerable and afraid of the future.

This was the mom I was in my early years of grief.

Yet after ten years, she’s not afraid anymore.  She has grown in ways she never believed possible, living outside her comfort zone for so long.  How was it possible to live so long as a bereaved mother when we could barely breathe, believing we would never make it one day, let alone months or years?

There is no hiding our true self. We have less tolerance for the mundane and superficial things in life. We learn to be honest with ourselves opening our eyes to the beauty of being alive and the capacity to love unconditionally as we’ve known devastating loss.

We are talented and inherently blessed as we balance life in two worlds, embracing the pain of our past, while carrying our children with us into this uncertain future.  Bereaved mothers think of their children first thing in the morning and before their eyes close at night.

We walk blindly in faith, one day at a time, clinging to one another and the only hope we can find. We are lead on a destination of self-discovery and purpose, evaluating where we’ve been and where we are going, tossing aside our imperfections. Knowing the value of each breath, we navigate through the intricate weave of life’s delicate threads possessing heavy wisdom beyond anything imaginable. In due time, we will come to a place again of self- love and happiness.

We get it. Loss has ignited a passion for life a place to thrive while we’re waiting to for that ultimate reunion. We strive boldly to honor our loved ones while bursting with compassion and a vigorous drive to serve others.

The strength of a grieving mother is enormous.  As we unite, we create a place where life is real and pain is palpable, yet hope and faith dominate. Differences are washed away and we are transformed into super heroes without even being aware.  God holds us up.

United in loss, stronger together. We can do this.

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The Ultimate Revelation of Faith

I didn’t really fathom the enormity of the meaning of Easter until after Lydia died, my adorable five-year old baby girl.   I knew absolutely nothing about death until July 16, 2008.  Prior to that, it was elusive to me. It was terrifying, and something I shied away from in every conversation that arose.

Death was dark, gloomy, heavy and emotional. I didn’t have time for that, nor did I want to acknowledge that it even existed.  My superficial protection and avoidance tactics took hold. I was happy and safe in my little bubble.

Then life suddenly changed. One beautiful summer morning, on our way to daycare, my own daughter died.   How was that even possible? My world was shattered in an instant. I was in shock. Things like this didn’t happen to people like me, so I thought.

Undeserving, guilt ridden, shameful-that was the new me.  The cloak of despair was heavy and unrelenting. I endured perpetual days packed with hopelessness and sorrow.  I just couldn’t comprehend that I was of any worth at all, as I had failed as a parent.

Those first weeks and months, I could barely breathe. My body was will filled with panic, as I tried desperately to grasp this horrible realty, while endlessly searching to find my girl. It’s a feeling that you cannot describe.   I needed to know she was okay and for her to know how loved she was.   Tears poured, as I couldn’t quite reach her, no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t able to kiss her sweaty forehead, draw her bath, or hold her tightly in my arms.  It was paralyzing.

After some time had passed, I became accepting of God’s mercy and grace. Acting on faith alone while opening my heart to Jesus, knowing I couldn’t survive this on my own, I imagined Mary pondering what she endured as a mother, watching her baby boy suffering on that old rugged cross. The baby she birthed, held and mothered all those years. The suffering she was feeling on the inside, her tears and helplessness must have been unimaginable.  A sense of comfort it gave me, as she knew my heartbreak. Yet she was anointed with a strength unfathomable to many of us.

This pain is so unbearable, living through the death of your child or death of any loved one, but to comprehend that God gave his only child, His only Son, to be tortured and to die for all of us, I struggle to find the words.

How could someone love us so much, that He would give His only Son to die, for the sins and wrongdoings of someone like me?  The pain was intense and the tears overwhelmingly plenty.

I couldn’t understand how was I worthy of such love?   But I was. And you are too.

It brought me to inconsolable weeping, instilling in me a renewed hope and outlook that my Lydia and Jesus were waiting for me when my time here is done.  I think that we get so preoccupied with ourselves and our lives that we don’t take the time to study and really gain insight into the story of Jesus, the magnitude of His love and the purpose of our existence.

Although it’s always bittersweet as we gather on Easter without my dear Lydia, I am reminded of the promise of new life He has given us. God sending his own son, to die for our sins, now that is some kind of love. Love that is more powerful that anything we could ever imagine.  Knowing that my precious daughter is home with Him, comforted and loved, brings peace to my heart.

Let us be reminded today, that He conquered death. He arose! No matter how difficult and life altering our sufferings are here on earth, there is nothing to be afraid of now. There is nothing we can’t handle through Him. Keep pressing into that faith.

Remember….

You ares so loved

John 3:16…”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

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Glimpses From God and Subtle Reassurance

And there she appeared. Adorably dressed in a pale pink jumper with white tights-embroidered on the front pocket was a hot pink and blue birthday present. Her golden locks framed her round rosy cheeks amplifying that mischievous yet loving smile. It was Lydia!
The elation I felt when I picked her up and held her in my arms, squeezing her tightly, I cannot put into words. Overcome with warmth and happiness, I could feel my soul slowly being filled with joy, providing that elusive sense of wholeness.  It was absolutely indescribable yet complete bliss!

I tried to get her some drink water from the fountain.  She took a couple of sips. Somehow in my mind I believed if she drank, she would stay with me. Not wanting to let go, I ran my fingers through her beautiful hair, taking note of her sweet scent. Oh how I loved her so much.
Lydia grinned back at me so sweetly, saying “I love you,” and then, just like that she was gone.
Tossing and turning, I was slowly waking up trying to process my current reality from my perfect dream world.  I tried unsuccessfully for minutes to fall back asleep, desperate to grasp more time with my girl.  Hot tears fell down my face.  How could it have been ten years since my five year old left for heaven?

The wholeness I felt was incredible, even if only for a few minutes. To experience this sensation was a wonderful blessing.    And then I woke up to navigate this earthly world without my girl. Again. Another day, wondering why me?  The most difficult thing any of us grieving, do.

However, if my dream was any indication of what it will be like when we are reunited again it will be so worth it.  I was given a reminder that this world we are in is only temporary and that a life of eternity awaits.  A place where there is no sorrow or pain, only pure joy and happiness.  It’s really there waiting for us. There’s salve for our hearts, relief from this pain we endure.
Dreams and moments like these bring perspective. Little pieces of the puzzle are gradually coming together, yet that doesn’t diminish the pain. We still carry it. However, I’ve learned that no matter our temporary physical separation, Lydia was there, waiting for me. Talk about comforting! I am reminded of the horrific suffering Christ endured for us, so that one day we can all live in eternal glory together.

momentsof youquote
Rubbing my eyes, I awakened to the singing of birds outside my window and the glimmer of sunshine on the snow. The beauty of life surrounded me inside and out.  Inhaling deeply, I whispered, “Yes, I can do this.  One day at a time. “

Pulling back the covers, I heard little voices coming from the living room. It was early and surely they were not awake already on a Saturday.  A peek down the hall revealed six young eyes glued to the television, watching the movie Annie.  Ahhh… Lydia’s favorite.  A movie they haven’t watched in years. Oh my heart.  And there it came.  High pitched off tune adorable voices singing Tomorrow.

“Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none

 The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow
I love ya tomorrow
You’re always
A day
Away”

Songwriters: Charles Strouse / Martin Charnin

 

Remembering how Lydia used to sing this very song while brushing our beloved dog, my spirit was lifted refueling me with the strength to conquer whatever was to come my way.   I’m here to tell you, hang on until tomorrow.  Never forget that our hope is renewed every day, come what may. There is nothing we can’t handle when Christ is on our side.

 

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  1 Peter 5:10
Because maybe someone else needs to hear this. Maybe you are craving reassurance or are seeking a  flicker of hope for whatever difficult season you are traveling through. When things seem hopeless and the pain seems unbearable, remember He died for you. For me. For all of us. His love is never ending. His promises are worth more than any gold, possession, or social media following. At times of sorrow and pain, stand on His promises. Cling to them with all your might. You can do it.