By Acasia O.
It’s Mother’s Day in the U.S., and while I’m not a mother, I am grateful for another year to celebrate the woman who gave me life. I’m thankful for the woman who changed all my poopy diapers, putting up with my shhhhhh well before I was old enough to manufacture it for her. I’m thankful for the woman who taught me how to read, celebrated me when I rode my bike, recited a poem or invented a new board game. I’m grateful for the woman who can make the best peach cobbler before God and man after surviving a grueling week in the classroom with her students. I’m grateful for the woman who loved on me and taught me forgiveness even hours after I disobeyed her and violated her trust. I thank God for my mother, I do.
Yet I couldn’t ignore the fact that on a day when I would call my mom to wish her Happy Mother’s Day, grief paid me a visit. To my knowledge, grief had no reason to come over. The fridge is full, the sun shines bright where I live and the A/C man came by the house this morning to fix the unit so I won’t faint in my house this summer. But grief sat with me at the kitchen table while I ate my cereal and she followed me to my room as I considered what I would wear today. I entertained this uninvited guest longer than expected and she eventually forced me into a corner, causing me to crumble inside, too weak to fight back. She shook me so hard that my teeth chattered and my face became slick from the tears that rushed out of my eyes.
Today we celebrate the woman who gave us life and the women who sustain us. From grandmothers and aunties to mentors and neighborhood mothers, there’s usually a special someone or someones who looked after us. And even if they aren’t our mothers, they are a loving and affirming presence in our lives. And let’s not sleep on the single mother and single fathers who play both roles to raise their child.
I recognize and celebrate the strong mothers who do the unthinkable to protect and guide their children, giving special love to the military mothers, both active duty and spouses, who do their best to establish stability in the midst of an unstable lifestyle.
This day is especially hard for the motherless. Advertisements, greeting card sections, even going to church or Mother’s Day brunches can be difficult for the person who lost their mother or even the mother of their child. I’ve been told losing anyone, and especially a parent, is akin to losing a body part and no amount of prosthetics will replace the real thing or get you used to it. “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
I never considered what today meant for the mothers of the children who are no longer with us, but grief caught me by surprise, as it often does, and forced me to think of the childless mother.
There are women who struggle daily to return to a normalcy that seems unattainable. There are women who never got to greet their little one in-person after up to 9 months of waiting. There are women who watched their baby exit the warmth of their womb, holding them in the comfort of their arms, only for time to be snatched away from them as they watch the cold earth absorb their child.
Today is meant to be a joyful and celebratory day, and indeed it is, but I see that it means something different for the woman who lost her child to the battlefield of war, illness, substance abuse, murder or suicide. And my heart is heavy for such women.
My intent is not to cloud this day with a somber spirit or melt into melancholy but to acknowledge, just as I would the new mommies, the women who are without their child. My desire is to intercede for them because the pain is far too heavy to carry alone. And while I don’t know such pain, and I pray I never do, if the level of hurt and weeping I’ve experienced concerning them is any indication of what they’ve endured, then Lord have mercy.
I want to believe they are sacred to The Almighty, for theirs is the pain of Mary who who lost her son and witnessed him die a merciless death. Theirs is a pain that can’t be measured, not even with a title worthy of describing such a loss, for we know what an orphan and a widow/er is, but what do you call a woman who has lost a child? Have we forgotten that they exist?
So while we celebrate mothers, do pray for the women who hurt on this day. Pray for their comfort and their endurance and that they be surrounded by a community of compassionate people who love on them through their loss. Whether they lost their baby recently or decades ago, they still remember that life and they still mark the passing years with visions of what their child would be doing, even on this Mother’s Day.