As the mother of four children, I say Happy Mother’s Day. To those of you scratching your head, wondering if I can do math, let me explain.
I have four children. I have two boys who I’m incredibly proud of. Two boys with so much to offer the world. Two boys that keep me going. Then I have a little girl we never got to see take a breath this side of Heaven. Many don’t consider a baby lost during pregnancy to be a child. But, from the moment that little baby started growing inside me – from the moment that heart started beating, I was mama to her – even if we didn’t know her outside my body. I was no less a mother. Then I have a beautiful princess – now residing in Heaven. For those new to my blog, my 7 year old little girl fight brain cancer for three years before taking her final breath this side of Heaven in February, 2016. She’s not here, and I miss her like crazy.
I am eternally grateful for the kids I’ve been blessed with. Those here on earth, and those whose home is Heaven. There is, however, a hole in my heart that is impossible to fill with anything else. Ever. I am going to let my heart have a voice today. Let my heart share a few things.
As shattered as my heart is, it still loves. It still beats – though it often feels like I need to remind it to beat again some days. But, even though there is a love so passionate, there is a counterpart called pain. My heart hurts. It aches.
Let me talk to you a bit about what Mother’s Day is to me. This day is as excruciating as it is beautiful. There is nothing that denies the incredible love. That cannot be erased. But to deny the existence of a broken heart is just unfair.
Mother’s Day does make me think fondly on the gift that motherhood is. I’m blessed to be given the honor of being trusted with the title of Mama. It also, however, reminds me of the empty space that those residing in Heaven used to fill. Though I love them greatly, I ache at merely the thought of the rest of this lifetime without them. I try not to dwell on it, but it’s impossible not to. Especially with all the memories and life moments that surround me each and every day.
Focusing on the little girl who we had seven years of a well lived life with, this is what I need you to know.
I need you to remember her. Not just that, but I need you tell me. I like to hear people reminisce about happy memories with her. No amount of you talking about her will bring me pain. I will not miss her any more than I already do. You talking about her won’t remind me that she’s gone – it will remind me that you remember her life – that she lived — not just that she died.
Tell me you miss her. That you hurt too. Tell me you’ll never forget her. If you never actually knew her, that’s okay. Remind me she was real, and so very loved. She was and always will be loved.
I need you to also just know that I hurt. Please don’t try to fix me. No amount of reminding me how grateful I should be because I still have the boys will ever change the fact that my heart is shattered. Yes, there is strength in those reminders – but they don’t stay pain. It isn’t possible for you to take away my pain.
What can you do?
You can offer to just sit with me in the pain. Acknowledge that it’s okay to not always be okay – and just know that I might not be feeling very okay any given moment. I might be – but might not be. Just sit with me. Allow me to just BE. Allow me the freedom to feel. To feel whatever I feel in that moment. Sometimes I feel love, hope, compassion and grace – while other times I feel quite the opposite.
I should note that sitting with me doesn’t just mean physically. It means online. Offline. Wherever.
Take the time to talk to me. Ask how I’m doing – but care enough really listen. If I tell you flippantly that “I’m good” that might be the truth, or it may be me begging you to dig deeper. I may mean it when I say I’m fine, or I may just find that easier than explaining how much I hurt and watching you squirm – not knowing how to handle me.
Another thing I need you to hear.
I know that you don’t know what to say. Truth be told, I’m glad you don’t know the pain associated with losing a child. I don’t expect you to have the perfect thing to say. Note – there isn’t magical or perfect thing anyone can say. And that’s okay. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing. Just tell me you’re with me. Tell me you care. Just allow your presence to be a friend.
Oh, and I know I may step on toes here, and I promise that is not my intent. But you need to understand that no loss you know (a parent, grandparents, cats or dogs, birds or fish – even a child) will equate to mine. I don’t pretend that you don’t hurt – but it’s not the same. It can’t be. My pain is not worse than yours. It’s just different. To tell me that you know how I feel because your dog died simply doesn’t compute. Don’t get me wrong. I totally validate your pain and know it’s very real. I only stipulate it isn’t mine. It’s yours. You don’t get it, and I’m glad.
So, on this day, as all days – these are just a few things I want you to remember. But especially on Mother’s Day, remember that if I’m not full of joy – there are valid reasons and explanations. If I am okay, let’s celebrate that together cause it may not be that way long. But it may be.
Just – you be you. I’ll be me. We can be broken together.
My daughter Hope died Decenber 6, 2015. The pain is still there . I feel the exact way that you do. No matter how hard my children tell me it’s going to be ok, it’s not! I have four boys and Hope was my only girl. She did not have cancer nor any other disease that would kill her. She was ejected from her best friends car during a wreck and pronounced dead at the scene! A seatbelt would of saved her life. Just a seatbelt! There were no drawn out goodbyes, actually no goodbyes at all! She was only 15 years old….. She was supposed to be her dance team captain this year. She was supposed to go to prom. She was supposed to graduate from high school. She was supposed to dance at college. She was supposed to date a lot and find that perfect husband to marry. She was supposed to give me grandchildren. And then later on in my life, she was supposed to take care of me when I got old.
Oh my goodness Barbara. I just want to hug you. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you it’ll somehow be alright – that it’s most definitely NOT okay and that you need to feel how you feel. I hear the pain but also intense love in your words. I am tremendously grateful, and feel honored that you shared your sweet Hope’s story with me. I’m sorry that you feel so much pain. I’m sorry for the broken dreams. I’m sorry that you mourn so deeply. But from a mom missing her little girl to you – hear this – you are not alone. I know that doesn’t take your pain (even anger) away. But keep giving your heart a voice. Keep remembering Hope and telling her story. I may not have all the answers, but I will sit with you in your pain. Let’s be broken together. Hugs to you.
What a POWERFUL letter. I started bawling 1/4 through it to the very end! No one can begin to even imagine the pain you feel and have. But it is very real and agonizing. My 14 year old daughter is currently battling brain cancer. I do know the fear of every day, but at the same time I am so thankful and grateful for every day I have with her, even if we happen to be fussing at each other for her not wanting to eat or drink for a week after treatment. My fear at those times gets the better of me. I don’t mean this the way it’s going to sound, but here goes…..I pray to God every night that I NEVER have to know that pain and that aching to hold my child, or to see her beautiful face, or to even fuss with her. God Bless you. And every day try to pull all your strength from him. I’ll never forget this letter. Thank you for expressing yourself in a way that another cancer mom can understand.
Oh, Sarah. My heart hurts knowing you’re walking the path that includes brain cancer. I hate that for you. Let me tell you, though – I pray the same thing for you and your sweet girl. My prayer is that no other child, and no other family has to face this. If you’d like to stay connected, it’s skate more of your daughters story with me – please feel free to send me a message. You can always post here in comments – but feel free to message me with the contact me page.
Thank you so much for connecting, and know I’ll keep you guys in prayer as well. Hugs to you.
This is absolutely beautiful… You put my very thoughts into amazingly truthful words. I thank you for that. Your Faith in our Heavenly Father will sustain and comfort you when you need it most! My heart aches for you and your family. My prayers are with you.
Missy – thanks for these incredibly kind words. Thank you, also, for praying. I’ve come to know the vital nature of prayer. Grateful you’re here.
I admire you for your honesty. You are right, it’s okay to not be okay. I am a faithful believer in God, and I know when I feel like I have no strength to go on, or wonder how i’m going to get through my day, or how to cope with a certain situation. In all ways, stages of my life, and grief, turmoil of several different kinds God has always been here to turn to. He has strengthened my testimony so greatly here on earth. Without him I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I want you to know that at any time of day or night that you need to talk, cry, meet for coffee, chat online, or just get a hug i’m here for you. To hold you and to be held by you! That’s what friends do for one another. I will never know your true feeling of pain you have, and you’ll never know mine but together we can turn that pain into conversation, love, a story, a piece of artwork, a picture, a road trip . Whatever it is that you need or may just want even can never be too big that I won’t be here if you allow me to be. I would love to get to know you better. YOU! You are beautiful and your soul is too. I love you Laura and I’m so glad that we have connected with one another. Hugs hugs and more hugs!!!!!!!
My goodness. Friendship is such a gift. You have no idea (or perhaps you do) how much your words mean to me. I’m blessed that you continue to reach out, and continue, also, to allow me to teach back. Your heart is beautiful.