Every year in the United States Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May and Father's Day on the the third Sunday in June. Other countries around the world celebrate these same days on different dates.
For those of us who have lost a child, these days come with mixed feelings, even dread. I have to admit, when someone kindly offers me a "Happy Mother's Day" greeting, even after all the years my son and only child Chris has been gone, I am a bit taken back. I say to myself, "Why are they saying that? They know my son died." But I always graciously accept their well wishes. I have decided Mother's Day is a day for concentrating on good memories of my son and not on my losing him.
I came to this conclusion one time when I was talking to a neighbor who was a new Mom. We were discussing how much having a baby and a child changes, but enlarges and enriches, a parent's life. I told her even though Chris had died, I would not trade the experience of having him in my life even to avoid this awful final pain. And today, I still would not. So this is what Mother's Day means to me and, I assume, my well wishers.
Being a parent opens up a new world to both mothers and fathers. A world full of joys, good memories, sacrifices, sorrows, and yes, loss for some of us. On the balance, we have these very good memories and watching our children achieve many milestones. The feelings of pride in their accomplishments. The enlarging of our own humanity when we have to make sacrifices for our children. Like planning a romantic evening or getaway weekend, only to have our kid get hurt at school or in sports or develop a 104 fever. Plans cancelled because we cannot and would not leave our precious child. These experiences only serve to strengthen the bond between parent and child. For most of us, our children always come first.
I am sure we all know people who don't have kids by choice. I have found them to be somewhat unaware of the love, pride, flexibility, sacrifice and responsibility it takes to be a parent. I think it is an unfortunate void for them. Love comes with pain. But the love and enrichment children bring to one's life can never be replaced or eradicated. Would any of us wanted to have lived without our parenthood experiences? Personally, I would not.
I made the decision not to go to the cemetery tomorrow on Mother's Day. I don't want to focus on Chris' loss. Instead I will remain home. I will put a candle and flowers by a memorial stone plaque I have on my balcony. There are words carved into it which say, "If tears could build a staircase and memories a lane, I would walk right up to heaven and bring you home again." Who of us would not? But it was not meant to be.
Children are a gift from God. They are on loan to us. Sometimes, due to the many trials and imperfections of our earthly existence, they are returned back to God before we, as their parents, are. Make no mistake. Our children are in God's good care even though we rather that they were still in our care. They are all right in the care and beauty of His Divine Light.
On Mother's Day, I will have a dinner toast to my son with my husband. I will thank God for the six loving step-children he has brought into my life. I will pray to Chris. Share with him some of my memories. Tell him how proud I am of him. What a good young man he was. Tell him I believe he is safe and happy. Ask him if he is happy for me. I will relish in his spirit. The spirits of all our children which will remains with us always despite their physical absence. I will pray for peace and strength for myself and for all of you, dear mothers and fathers.
God takes care of us if will will open our hearts to Him and extend out our hands. This really came home to me when my husband said to me, "Nature knows how to take care of itself." Does not the Gospel of Matthew admonish us not to worry. It points to the birds of the air and lilies of the fields as being in God's care, "...though they labor not..." And goes on to ask if such small things are important to God, what about us? How much more must He love and care for us who are so bereaved and for our dearly departed children who have returned to Him?
May you each have the best day you can have on your day. Our lives can move forward in sorrow. With faith and hope we move bit by bit from profound grief. Try to take these two days to remember your deceased child's life, not loss. And be present with your living children who remain God's blessings to you. Hold on tight to them. Let them know how much you love them.
May we find the words to speak, the way to walk and the life to live.
"Surely, there is a future and your hope will not be cut off."