Is there a holiday more challenging for mothers who’ve lost a child than this one? If there is I don’t know it. Where once there had been homemade cards and breakfast in bed, now there is a glaring reminder of what will never be again.
The day doesn’t have to be a morose tribute to our pain though. Instead we can honor ourselves for having loved our children well and for having the courage to continue living in a world without them. If we have other children, we can decide that their love and presence alone are worth celebrating. As people of faith we can rest and rejoice in the hope that we will one day be reunited with all those who’ve gone before us into the next world, especially our children.
We don’t have to like what has happened or even understand it, but we can choose joy over sadness, love over loss, life over death. Annie Dillard helps me do this with these words from Holy the Firm:
We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but of what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickle’s worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do: churn out enormities at random and beat them, with God’s blessing, into our heads–that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. Who are we to demand explanations of God? (And what monsters of perfection should we be if we did not?) We forget ourselves, picknicking; we forget where we are. There is no such thing as a freak accident. “God is at home,” says Meister Eckhart, “We are in the far country.”
We are most deeply asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any switches at all. We sleep to time’s hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of time uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it’s time to break our necks for home.
There are no events but thoughts and the heart’s hard turning, the heart’s slow learning where to love and whom. The rest is merely gossip, and tales for other times.
If the death of a child teaches us anything, it teaches us that we’re not in control and that the world makes little sense apart from God. If we’re wise, it will teach us where to love and whom.
My prayer for you is that you will love well those whom God has given you to love in the absence of your child, and that you will have the courage not to waste your time with those who increase your suffering. Be kind to yourself. Thank God for the glorious privilege of being a mother. Cry if you need to you, and then have a Happy Mother’s Day!