I’ve thought about this day for a while. I’ve known it’s coming – looming there in the future, a dark shadow on the horizon. My first mother’s day without one of my children. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, knowing that a piece of my motherhood is forever gone, buried in the soft red clay of North Carolina, eternally consigned to the earth. So many people have reached out by message to let me know that they know how hard this day is going to be for me.
And yet, my heart is strangely lighter today than it has been. My husband got up with the kids, and he made myself and Alison homemade French toast, eggs, bacon, and fruit salad. He got me flowers, and he bought several potted plants for our house (he knows I love flowers). Later in the afternoon, we had brunch with my mother, Robin, and my mother-in-law, Jessie. The weather is beautiful. We’re in Knoxville, staying with Jim’s brother and his wife (my best friend). We’ve spent the day outside.
Why is my heart full today? Why did I wash my hair, put on makeup, and a nice dress?
I realize that my son’s life was a gift. Though he is gone, I am eternally grateful that he was here, that he spent 5 wonderful months with us. I have friends that held their children even more briefly than I. I have friends that never held their children alive at all. There are mothers in Syria who have lost more than just one child – they’ve lost an entire family. There are grieving mothers everywhere.
Pain is relative. Yes, my heart is torn asunder, and it bleeds constantly. Yes, I wept hot tears on my husband’s shoulder last night as I lay in bed with him, missing the warmth of James snuggled against me, missing the smell of his fine baby hair, the sound of his voice. But James was here. I got to experience those things. I have those memories. I have pictures and videos and stuffed animals to remind me of the boy my son was. I got to be his mommy. I am still his mommy. I will always be his mommy.
I can’t be sad for his life. I can be bent by his death but not broken. I can weep, but I can also find joy in my memories.
That is how I know that I will survive this. That is how I know that I will continue to go on and that life will again bring me joy. I have his memories, I have his spirit within me, I have his DNA flowing in my veins. He is always with me, though I can’t see him.
Happy mother’s day to all the mothers out there.