May 20, 2024

The LORD says, “A sound is heard in Ramah, a sound of crying in bitter grief. It is the sound of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are gone.” Jeremiah 31:15 (NET Bible)

My mother went to Heaven in 2001, and suffered with Alzheimer’s for almost 10 years before that, so celebrations of Mother’s Day have always been a bit of a shadow for me. My oldest sister is a pastor’s wife and had four boys, so she had an entire congregation and her men to celebrate her fully. When my sister June and her daughter lived in California for seven years, that was when I was able to tap into the celebration and the fun, with presents and Mother’s Day brunches. June was a really great mom, so it was fun to honor and appreciate her, especially as a single mom. After a long battle with cancer, in 2008, June went to Heaven too. So, once again, I had no one to actively acknowledge or celebrate. 

While I am thrilled that Mother’s Day has such special commemoration and significance in the West, a good majority of us woke up this morning feeling out of sorts. I know, because I am one of them. My husband’s mother passed away in January, so that pretty much closed the loop in terms of having Mother’s Day celebrations. For him, this discombobulation is fresh, as it is for others. I think of my three RedState colleagues, Duke, Jim Thompson, and Buzz Patterson, who have lost their mamas recently. I have friends (a couple) who lost his father and her mother in the space of the last two months. And one friend just buried her mother last week.

Then there are the mothers whose children have died. That big sister I mentioned above lost one of her sons in 2021— he was only 44 years old and had two children of his own. She still feels that loss significantly, so I cannot imagine the grief of a mother whose only child is lost to them, whether through death or estrangement. We have added a whole new dimension to this estrangement paradigm with the gender indoctrination and children being stripped from their mothers who refuse to affirm a lie. Finally, there are those who never got the chance to mother, whether due to age, infertility, or life circumstances. I fall into that category as well. While the Bible encourages one to rejoice with those who rejoice, there is also that part of us that would be fine retreating into whatever is our safe space until the day is done.

I want you to know today you are seen. You are understood, and you are acknowledged. The depth of the grief is sometimes a reflection of the depth of the love and nurture, and sometimes it’s just regret over what could have been but now is not possible. While I will go to church and wish all the moms I know a happy day, I plan to come home and retreat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grief should be acknowledged, examined, and allowed to take its course. Pastor and author Frederick Buechner said, “Pay attention to the things that bring a tear to your eye or a lump in your throat because they are signs that the holy is drawing near.” 

It’s also a process that we experience all our lives. An amputated limb will heal, and we learn to navigate without it—but it is still a part of us that is missing. More poignantly, as Buechner elucidates, those are often the times when God is closest. He understands even more than we do the depth of the loss, the hole that has been left, the piece of you that can never be replaced or will never be acknowledged. God is also there to comfort, even if we sometimes refuse it. 

When it was clear my mother-in-law was making her transition, my sister-in-law, knowing that I had walked this path many times before, asked me how I deal with the loss. My immediate response was, “the Hope of Heaven.” The apostle Paul encouraged us that “We do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.” For those who believe, we will see our mothers and our children again. Buechner also said, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.” As long as we live and breathe, we have the hope of resurrection in this life, as well as the life to come.

This beautiful post by someone I follow illuminates how redemption is possible, even after great loss. It may not be the same—it’s not meant to be the same—but it is an infusion of life and hope to assuage the grief.

I’m gonna be a little verklempt for a bit. My daughter sent me flowers for Mother’s Day. To many of you that’s “Meh” or “How nice”. But you see, this is the fourth Mother’s Day I’ve ever been able to celebrate like other real mommas. It’s only the fourth time in my life that I’ve received Mother’s Day flowers from my child. I was forced to relinquish her for adoption as a teenager, and I was never able to have more children.  We were reunited in 2021. So Mother’s Day is infinitely more special and precious to me these days. Y’all go call your moms if you still have her, please. Imma go cry now.

Happy Mother’s Day for those whose day is filled with joy, acknowledgment, and celebration. But if you are like me today, it’s okay to go and cry now, for whatever reason you need to do it. 

I’ll be holding a puppy close while I gently weep.