When someone asks me how many kids I have, I immediately say “I have six kids”. That hasn’t always been an easy question for me to answer. Shortly after our daughter Nicole went to Heaven, I would cringe when someone asked me that question. Not because I didn’t know what to say, but because part of my heart was missing without Nicole. I didn’t feel whole and didn’t know how to explain that to people. I came to realize an explanation wasn’t necessary. I was, am and always be the mama to six beautifully individual souls. One just happens to live in Heaven now.
As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart still aches with longing for what was. Being a mom is the most intense, heart-wrenching, beautiful, and terrifying experience on the planet. On the best days, you feel like there is no way your heart can contain the love gathered there. On the worst days, well...you feel flattened under the pressure of being responsible for raising another human being.
When our children come into our lives, our heart expands to love each of them fully. It is not as if there are limits, our hearts just enlarge to form a space specifically for each one of our kids. When we lose a child, that space remains and our hearts are broken. It can be difficult to know what to do with the space that child occupied once they’re gone.
I remember thinking “Oh, my broken soul. What to do with all this pain, all this love that has no place to go?”
I floundered in torment. I felt lost, alone and forgotten. Some well intentioned people said “Well, at least you have your other kids”. It’s not that those other sweet kids didn’t matter. They still held their unique spaces in my heart. It’s just that the pain of the void left in Nicole’s space seemed to swallow me up. I longed to get a hand-written note, or drawn picture from her. See, Nicole was always writing me notes. It was just one of the ways she showed me she loved me. I miss that. I miss so much about her.
I know you miss your son or daughter too. I know this Mother’s Day is hard and it can easily feel as if you are being crushed under the weight of your sorrow. So, here are a few words from my heart to yours. I hope that they encourage this Mother's Day.
Dear Grieving Mama,
It will soon be Mother’s Day. This may be the first Mother’s Day without one of your precious kids or it may be one of many you’ve struggled through.
I know there are no words that will take away your pain. If there were, I’d use them to ease the pressure in your chest from your broken heart. I just want you to know that you will make it through this day. You will put one foot in front of the other and you will breathe each new breath. You will make it sweet friend.
Don’t give up and don’t give in to the voices of despair that threaten the edges of your mind. Lies that you were not enough to save your child, or you were not a good mom or that all of it was a waste. The truth is that your sweet child of whatever age had a specific number of days on this earth and they were blessed to have you as a mama. It is also true that you were not a perfect mom, but none of us are. But your love was enough and that is what your child needed. Not a perfect mom, but a mom who loved and you did that. Your love, your time, your investment, your efforts were not in vain. Every minute you spent with that child of yours counted. You may not get to see the fruit of your labor here on earth, but I promise you there is fruit. Every seed of love you planted in that little soul will eternally live on.
You may not be able to receive hand written notes, texts or cards from your child this mother’s day, but you are still a mom. A mom that will always have a beautiful garden planted in your heart for your child that you can’t see, but is still part of you.
You will always be a mama.
With much, much love,