Author's note: It's hard to believe that Mother's Day 1984 was 35 years, 11 months, and 28 days ago. You'll never know how old I feel when those numbers stack up, but through my writing, I hope that I can stop time for just a little while and perhaps it won't be that long ago after all.
Mother's Day is a day of celebration for many, but it isn't always. Some tend to forget those who are missing their mothers or the ones who are missing their precious babies or children. Sadly, too, those who are unable to get pregnant are often not remembered or acknowledged. Because I can understand, I am able to write this piece. I hope in sharing, I can be of comfort to someone who is hurting and maybe I can help others understand that not every Mothers Day is a day of celebration. Sometimes it's something more.
I dedicate this story to those who have mixed feelings and emotions where Mother's Day is concerned. Your feelings are yours and that is okay. Be gentle with yourself. Whatever it is that you're needing today, please know that you are not alone.
You are loved.
Mother's Day, May 13, 1984
She woke up that day feeling a bit like death warmed over. When she hit the snooze button on her alarm clock for what had to have been the fifth time, she groaned in annoyance. She buried her face in her pillow. She wasn't ready to get up. She wasn't going to work, because it was a Sunday. She just wanted to stay in her bedroom, hiding herself away the unseeing eyes of the world. She didn't want to talk to anyone. No one ever really saw her. They spoke to her, but did they really see?
Her plans to rest and shut herself away abruptly ended when the door to the bedroom came open and he strode inside. She peeked at him with one eye as she turned over to see him standing at the foot of the bed. The rays of morning sun seemed to emanate off his tall form. The sunlight was harsh and blinding. She didn't want to face it. She wanted it to be dark and quiet, like a tomb.
"Honey, it's time to wake up," he said, his voice far too cheerful as he joined her beside the bed, carrying a tray of toast and juice. "I made you breakfast in bed."
"You made me what?" she asked in surprise. He actually cooked? It wasn't like him, but then it all started sinking in. Mother's day. It was just another day, was it not?
"Warren, what... why...?" she said as she was rubbing her tired and swollen eyes. She sat up as he placed the tray upon her lap. She nearly spilled the tall glass of orange juice but then she caught it quickly in her hand.
He sat down next to her on the other side of the bed. "Aren't you hungry?" he asked as he stared at her with concern.
"No, I'm not really," she replied. "But thank you. It was nice of you to make all of this for me, but I don't think..."
"Wendy, you've been quiet for days and you're never quiet. I know what's been weighing heavily on your mind."
Their gazes locked. "I'm sorry," she said. "I just can't..."
Unbidden tears filled up her eyes. Six months ago she had been involved in a terrible car crash. She had survived, but their unborn son had not. She had been half way through her pregnancy, but the accident had been crushing and completely devastating. The tiny baby did not make it through the traumatic ordeal.
Three months later, they were married. It was all she had ever wanted to become his wife, but their joy was deeply shrouded by the loss of their precious child. Now it had been six months - the longest months she had ever lived; for they had been six painful months of learning to live without her baby. How she missed him. She ached for him, but he was gone. Like a tiny candle put out forever, she still struggled to see his light.
He took the tray away and placed it on the nightstand. "Wendy, I am sorry. I thought..."
They both stumbled over words. They hardly ever talked about the loss of the baby and when they did, it often turned into an argument. She honestly didn't know what they were arguing about; they both had lost the same thing. And while at first he had reservations, he ultimately wanted their child. He had grieved, too.
He took her hand in his as he raised her chin, forcing her to look at him, to meet his gaze. Her eyes were wounded and glassy with tears. "We need to talk," he said gently.
She nodded as a tear silently slid down her cheek. A single tear. That was all she would shed. She had cried so much after it had happened, that she thought there would be no more tears left. Maybe, deep down inside, an ocean of tears lay in waiting, ready to burst forth in an attempt to cleanse away her sorrow. It needed to come out somehow. It was doing her no good left deep down, trapped inside. She had to set it free.
"We never talk. Not really," she said. "We talk about work. We talk about other things, but never about what we lost. Our baby."
He smiled softly. She had said it - OUR baby. She usually referred to their child as her baby. That was one of the reasons they argued so much. She had been deeply wounded by his initial reaction to fatherhood. He hadn't been ready. She was ecstatic with the news of her pregnancy, but it took him time to realize exactly what it was he needed. Once he did finally realize, it had been too late. Their baby was gone.
"Mother's day is killing me," she revealed as more tears silently flowed. "Am I a mother? Why did you make me breakfast in bed? I don't have a baby. My baby is gone."
"You're a mother whether our child is here with us or not. You'll always be his mother," he said. "You loved him. You nurtured him. He was ours - our baby."
"I never even held him. I never saw his eyes."
"Wendy, I know that what happened is the worst thing you've ever been through, but it opened my eyes. I almost lost you, too. When I came to you that night in the hospital, I knew what a fool I'd been. I knew what mattered more than anything - you, me, and having a family. Our baby's life DID have meaning. He was a part of us. The best part."
"But why can't he be here now... with us?" she asked in a trembling voice as she clutched his hand, holding onto it like a life-line, just as she had that terrible night.
"I can't answer that question, but I do know that we still have each other. I love you. We are married now. I couldn't love you any more than I did that night, holding you in my arms as we said our goodbyes to our son. I never wanted to let you go. I don't want to let you go ever. Our baby's gone, but we're still here - you and I. That child was created from our love. All he ever knew was love from the moment he was conceived. You gave him that. Not me - YOU. He never knew my love. I never let myself show it. I never even let myself FEEL it; not until it was far too late. What we lost that day opened my eyes and now I feel it everywhere. It's overwhelming and the most incredible feeling of peace I have ever known."
"So you're saying our baby saved us?"
"Yes, I think so. I was headed down a path destruction and I was trying not to take you with me. Almost losing you and losing our child, it was the light I desperately needed to see. It made me discover what was really important - you, me, and our love."
She thought for a while, not speaking as she took it all in. Something had changed that night and it wasn't just the loss of their child. HE had changed. He was softer, kinder, more loving. He had turned his life around. Not everyone may have noticed, but she did. For the longest time she had been so consumed with sorrow that she hadn't fully registered his transformation. But as she gazed into his eyes, it all sunk in.
"Because of you and our baby, I realize the true value of what I've been given in my life. I'm sorry though that it took the loss of our child to open up my eyes. It really isn't fair."
She sucked in air as she struggled not to cry. She had been brave for much too long. Very seldom did she let the tears flow and whenever she did, her feelings came pouring out like a flowing cascade of emotion. "Did you mean it when you said I am still a mother?"
"Always," he said as he tenderly kissed the top of her head. "You'll always be the beautiful mother of my son, my first child. You are the one I love."
She clung to him tightly then, going into his arms, just as she did that night a little over six months ago. He held her close, whispering words of love as he did everything in his power to try to soothe her.
"Today seems so ugly. It doesn't even seem like it's Mother's Day," she told him with a broken heart. "Tell me something beautiful."
"I love you," he said. "And I always will."
Author's Note: This poem has special meaning to me. I do not know the author.
I Thought of You
I thought of you and closed my eyes and prayed to God today.
I asked, "What makes a Mother?" and I know I heard him say,
"A Mother has a baby, this we know is true."
"But God can you be a Mother, when your baby's not with you?"
"Yes, you can," he replied, with confidence in his voice,
"I give many women babies; when they leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime and others just for a day.
And some I send to fill your womb, but there's no need to stay."
"I just don't understand this God; I want my baby here."
He took a breath and cleared his throat, and then I saw a tear.
"I wish I could show you, what your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile with other children and say…
'We go to earth to learn our lessons, of love and life and fear.
My mommy loved me so much; I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a mom, who had so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly; my mommy set me free.
I miss my mommy oh so much, but I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep, on her pillows where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, and whisper in her ear,
Mommy, don't be sad today, I'm your baby, and I'm here.'
So you see, dear sweet one, your children are okay.
Your babies are here in my home, and this is where they'll stay.
They'll wait for you with me, until your lessons are through.
And on the day that you come home, they'll be at the gates for you."
So now you see what makes a Mother, it's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of, right from the very start.
Though some on earth may not realize, until their time is done.
Remember all the love you have and know that you are a special mom.