The sounds of celebration continue to ring after the DP girls varsity lacrosse team won their first division championship in program history on Friday night in Los Angeles. The girls are thrilled and we share in their excitement…what a fun achievement.
It was such a fun way to start the weekend…a weekend I anticipated would be difficult and complicated. Of course, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate Rolf’s and my dear moms (Happy Mother’s Day with much love Oma and G’ma Jo!!!) but there is an undeniable dread to this year’s Mother’s Day for sure.
I spent some time this week googling topics like “Facing Mother’s Day after the loss of a child” and read a handful of articles and, honestly, none of the insights I read resonated with me. For some grieving moms, Mother’s Day accentuates feelings of guilt over not being able to spare their sick child from death or fear that they’ll no longer feel like their child’s mom. I’m not struggling with these concerns. I think what is surprising to me in my grief journey is the fluidity of the experience. The best way to explain it is the difference between having a “broken heart” versus a “breaking heart”. My heart hasn’t reached a maximum level of heartbreak. It is still breaking. I am a mother of four children. I gave birth to four babies and one of those babies no longer exists. That’s a hard reality to grasp…no matter how much time passes. It’s hard to face the day without Rudy…no matter how much time passes. The grief is an open wound.
In addition, my whole identity as a mother has shifted and is dramatically changing as each day passes. Last year, I was the mother of 4 children…able to care for their varied needs. This year, I not only fall into the category of a bereaved mother but am also a terminally ill mother dependent on my children for daily basic needs. Talk about a paradigm shift! I don’t know. Maybe Mother’s Day, for me, creates a bit of an identity crisis. Maybe the pain lies in not being the kind of mom I’ve relished in for the past 21 years. Maybe the pain lies in not having the capacity to be for my family what I’ve been before this point in time. If my grief over losing a child is an open wound, my disease is salt in that wound.
So, how do I navigate Mother’s Day? One breath at a time. This year it is, for me, a celebration of the four special days in my life when I became a mom. It’s a celebration of the four lives God entrusted to me and Rolf. It’s the grateful acknowledgment of the abundance of God’s grace that has blanketed our family…through so many changing seasons of our past and the changing seasons to come. I guess what I’m learning this year is that the special holidays that pepper the calendar with significance and tradition won’t always be happy celebrations but are no less rich and meaningful. Life experience whether joyful or tragic serves to deepen and shape us altering our approach to life but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…just, at times, profoundly different.