I grew up avoiding the holiday altogether, spending the day with my mom and sister and friends at our local theme park. We would laugh, eat five dollar snow cones and stand in line for hours to get soaked in the rapids of the Grizzly River Rampage.
My mom’s mother died suddenly at the age of 47, and for as long as I can remember the pain was too great to bear; the church service where the pink carnations were passed around in honor of Mother’s Day, the poems and the tributes left my mother’s already broken heart vanquished.
Instead of donning corsages, we engaged in pure bliss; built new traditions out of the ashes, felt the sun warm on our skin and thanked God for the gift of each other. It has now been two years now since my sweet, strong, sassy mother passed on Mother’s Day and I am reflecting on how hard it is to face this day for so many of us whose mothers are no longer in this world, for those who long to have children but cannot, who have never known a mother’s love.
I am no expert in grief, hold no degrees in loss and love but have lived it enough to want to share what I know. For my part, holding her hand while she drew her final breaths, being fully present with my Mother in her final moments as she had been with me in my first kicks and cries felt like a passage, entre into the wide circle of life, a birthing into full womanhood and the great privilege of my forty years. So as I look to this day, it only seems right to celebrate the gift of her, the goodness of her wisdom and to honor her legacy of love.
Here are some helps I’ve learned along the path that might help you through:
1. Sew love: If there are others around you for whom this day is difficult for a myriad of reasons, invite them to join you for brunch. Eat, laugh and lift glasses, thank God for the goodness of family born in Christ Jesus and the bonds of brokenness that unite.
2. Celebrate feminine voice: Go hear a good woman preacher. Immerse yourself in images and the prophetic, poetry and prose of women who inspire, challenge and encourage you. Relish the gift of being born a woman, graced with the office of bringing forth, nurturing, embracing and releasing life.
3. Give thanks: Send notes, facebook posts, surprise text messages to all those girlfriends who run themselves ragged between board meetings and ball parks, who rock high heels and burp cloths; squeeze their babies, affirm their world changing call and work.
4. Plant goodness: Find the perfect rose or peony and set it in the dirt, press it down and drench it with water in memory or honor or in hope of what might come. Send bouquets to women who have stood in the gap, who have mothered you, loved and seen you through.