My Dear Sweet Friend,
What I have to say isn’t for those on a sentimental high of celebratory accolades and recognition. This isn’t your typical Mother’s Day blog post full of ironic humor and adorable pictures of frazzled moms and food smeared chubby toddlers. I’m pretty sure you won’t have a hard time finding something like that elsewhere, if that’s what you’re looking for. But, you won’t find it here.
This is an open letter to the brokenhearted. An acknowledgment of those who may feel as though they reside on the outskirts of society on days like today. Who think that they are alone in their pain. This is for those whose mothers have passed, and the only way they can give them flowers today is to lay them on their graves. This is for the women who have made their homes in the valley of barrenness. This is for those who look into the beautiful faces of their children and still see the ghosts of what could have been, what they feel should have been. This is for those whose arms ache with the emptiness of loss and hope. This is for those who have piles of home pregnancy tests stashed all over their homes, waiting for that confirmation of life. This is for those who are haunted by the guilt of choices that can’t be undone and wonder, what if? This is for those who gave their children away long ago and wonder what became of them. This is for the children of mothers who gave less than they needed and are still left with the void. This is even for those who shrug and think, it’s just another day when, in the space of truth that lies beneath, they know that it’s not. This is for the woman who puts on a brave face and smiles until her cheeks hurt, only to steal moments alone with her head tilted back, fingers gently patting away tears before her concealer breaks and her mascara runs.
I’ve carried a burden for you. Yes, you. I thought of you and your pain and laid it along side my own burden of brokenness, before hoisting it onto my back and wearing it for the last week. I counted down the days till Sunday, sadness tinging each moment, sighs escaping my mouth at will and without conscious provocation. As I sit here snuggled up on my couch in a velvety soft blanket, my stomach is in knots at the thought of going against the grain and speaking to a population that many people would rather pretend don’t exist. I guess I’m unique in that I belong to both groups. There have been times when I would rather not deal with the messiness of sadness and loss. When I found it easier to pretend. But that’s exhausting and tiresome and debilitating and any other number of words you can think of to explain that it’s no longer worth my time.
I am the mother of a stillborn. An oxymoron of an existence. Do I count as a mother? Do I ignore the pain that fills me like air on days like this? Do I pretend that I don’t feel the undercurrent of pain that my eyes were opened to the moment tragedy struck?
I won’t do that. I won’t pretend that I don’t see you. I see you, I feel you and I care for you. For lack of a better way to put it; it sucks to be us right now. The truth is that if we’d had a choice, none of us would have joined this club.
But we’re here now and I found myself asking God, “What do I say to them, Lord?” I didn’t feel that I had anything to offer until I remembered that we don’t have to keep carrying our burdens . It’s a choice we make. I’m not going to give you a Christian cliche and advise you to lay your burdens down. I prefer to think of it as simply letting go. That’s what I did.
I gave birth to my deceased daughter, and had her cremated. Then, I had no choice but to learn how to live in The After. Some things forever change you, without fanfare, quietly and totally. This was one of those things. I railed against God. I was consumed with a simmering rage that only seemed to grow as, even in my grief stricken state, I realized that I needed Him. And the whole time, He was right there. Through my rage, my numbness and my years of insidious resentment. He was right there.
Because you see, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted* and binds up all their wounds**.
I know this, not because I read it, but because I lived it. He was faithful to walk with me through sorrow, and I came to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering. My point is that I never had to lay my burden down. I eventually let it go because it’s hard to hang on to your stuff when you’re constantly in the presence of the Almighty. It really is darn near impossible. Trust me, I tried.
He bound up my wounds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still hurt. Pain is a part of the healing process. I had surgery months ago, and I still hurt at the site of the wound when it’s going to rain. I’m still healing, and those twinges are part of that healing. I might feel those twinges for the rest of my life, but that’s OK. The pain that led me to the surgical table was far more excruciating than the twinges I feel now. The same is true for the emotional and spiritual trauma we can’t see. Over time, you will still feel sadness. You will still shed tears.
But, you won’t be broken forever.
When the pain is overwhelming, when you can’t see past it and wonder how you’ll go on, just remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever. Shed your tears, remember the good, take a few deep breaths and know that you can go on.
He said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21
*Psalm 34:18, **Psalm 147:3