I recently had a written interview in which I was asked to describe motherhood in three words. This was my response:
We all do! I have come to realize that motherhood is the connection that bonds us all. Our circumstances may look different, and our experiences may not be exactly the same, but we all experience the joys and the pains that come with being a mother. I have gained a tremendous sense of peace and confidence reassured by the fact that I am not the only one. At one time or another we’ve all felt the same way.
Today, I am not so sure. While my words are mostly true, there is a group of mothers within motherhood that is bound by something much greater than anything I have encountered. I am 41 years young and have had the painful experience of watching 6 women bury a child. While motherhood is the ultimate sorority, the loss of a child puts these mothers in an exclusive group requiring excruciating dues that none of us want to pay. It’s the elite group where grief and inexplicable loss is the tie that bonds.
I grieve today for all of the mothers that had to lay her child to rest. I cannot fathom that sense of profound loss, but I grieve for her. I grieve for the family of four that is now a family of three. I grieve for the empty chair. The unoccupied room. The shoes at the back door. I grieve for my own sense of naiveté that life is permanent. I grieve for my sense of certainty for tomorrow that I had 72 short hours ago.
I obsessively stared at my children today, totally creeping them out. In my grief I find myself searching for permanence. I want a litmus test, with certifiable accuracy, a cheek swab with reliable results to tell me for sure that they know how much they are loved. I need to know for sure that they are filled with the joy and love that I feel for them. I want to know that the time I lingered on my phone for too long when I should have been watching one more cartwheel won’t really count against me. I want to know that they will always remember that time I let them make the cookies completely on their own. Will they remember my meatloaf? Do they know that I religiously kiss them each and every night while they are sleeping and slightly jiggle them so I can hear their breath? I need to know all of this. I need to know all of this with certainty. I need permanence.
The Pastor today reminded us that life is like a vapor – there one minute and senselessly gone the next. How in the world can we live, loving and raising our children in such a preciously unstable existence? It’s a true paradox because on one hand it’s an almost unfathomable concept and truly takes my breath away, and yet on the other hand, there is no alternative.
I can only surmise one theory and that is Faith. We must have Faith in something greater and bigger than us. There is more, way more than we can even imagine. I have to take each step guided by the deepest Faith that I am on the right path. Faith that if and when I falter, I will find a way to right myself. Faith in that there is purpose in life and death. As difficult and unimaginable, there is still purpose. Faith that these mothers will find peace. Faith to love in huge ways and hope for things greater than I can imagine. Faith to be present and aware and in awe of how truly delicate the thin wisp of thread that connects us all to this life, and still love.
In the highest of joys have Faith. In the unsettling lack of permanence, have Faith. In the deepest, most profound sadness and loss, have Faith.