“Dad, please make sure our Mom knows how much she means to our family. Just try… that’s the only thing she really needs”. – Love, Braden
“I promise, son. Thanks for the reminder and happy birthday!” – Braden’s dad
Sunday is Mother’s Day and Monday is our first child’s birth date. “It must just be God’s timing”, we all said on that pre-dawn morning waiting in the maternity room May 9th for Braden to arrive. This common phrase applies still today, but it’s now said with a much deeper meaning than before October 2018.
It’s been a long time between posts because I’ve tried to write probably fifty times but can never finish with a story that does much more than wander all over the page. Most of those journals remain “to be completed later”. Maybe they’ll be finished someday, but more likely they won’t. They’ll just remain jagged puzzle pieces that won’t quite fit together until the next life when the big picture will be far clearer.
By now, you’d think it would be easier and in some ways it has been. Still, out of nowhere (often on a sunny day like today) the emotions return to blow down our doors like a tornado. Unexpected, these kinds of storms arrive while we’re standing fully upright. Suddenly, we’re crushed not to the floor but through it. To occur, they require nothing more than a tune on the radio or a song at church. A familiar smell. A “memory” photo on the phone. A favorite old restaurant or change of season. A slight breeze itself can suddenly become a torrential storm of sadness. We’re not alone on this stormy path though. Many amazing parents share a similar walk. God is our most vital strength though. Without His hand extended and our faith to take hold of it, I can’t fathom how we’d survive. Sadly, many do not.
Losing a close “loved one” is something relatively new to me. During our lives, we have lost both sets of elderly grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. which are pretty normal for the course. I’m beyond blessed to still have both of my parents although they have narrowly missed a couple of close calls recently. They’re still strong, healthy, and somewhat active in their mid 80’s. I could write a book about our own “Janie Mom” and what her sacrifice has meant to her family.
Cathy was not as fortunate. Before we met, she tragically and unexpectedly lost her “mama” who was also her best friend. After we married, she lost her father tragically. He was a good friend to me and was crazy about his grandson, Braden. Cathy tells stories about her mom and from what I hear through her lifelong friends, looking at Cathy is much like looking at her mother. She was a walking heart which is how I best describe my wife. It’s the main reason I took a chance on asking her to marry me!
This woman who chose to accept me as her husband loves everyone she meets. She has more joy in her fingertip than I have in my whole body and would give her life for the benefit of any one of us. In a way she has done just that by successfully balancing the demands of being an “all-in” mom to an active teenage daughter while daily walking in the shadow of losing her only son. It’s beyond me to understand much less describe what that must require. Cathy does it though, not with a downturned smile or chip on her shoulder but with a song and faith in her heart while carrying an invisible tear on her cheek. Pretty darn amazing.
This past week I was determined to just get through another one of these annual weekends but this morning I was left alone with my thoughts. Cathy was off being a good mother by running our daughter to her dance studio halfway across the county. She does this every day and often twice daily without one complaint. Before starting my weekend routine of working around the house, I sat over coffee and happened upon a post on social media about moms who have lost their moms. It hit me like a brick about my wife’s experience on her Mother’s Day. Each year at this time she has a perfect storm of memories. April is her own mama’s birthday; her son’s birthday is May 9, and depending on the calendar year, her own Mother’s Day falls on the very same weekend.
They say women are far stronger than men in many ways. I’m a witness and can personally attest to this fact. In the storms of life, I’m guilty of often hiding below deck while Cathy not only deals with the same winds I do, but she experiences many more which I do not. All the while, she remains bravely on deck to tend the sails for her family to keep us on course.
I don’t do as well as I could at supporting, encouraging, and cherishing her but I certainly intend to try. After all, that’s what she needs most.
Heavenly Father, make us the husbands our wives deserve and make us the fathers their children need. Both are gifts unearned and certainly undeserved. You have entrusted us to be servant leaders to our families, but we can’t lead effectively unless we are first servant followers of you. Thank you for the gift of Our Moms. Help us to honor them as they deserve and to cherish them as the gifts they are to us. Amen
Below is the article posted on FB Prosper Speaks that spoke to me today about what Cathy and other moms who have lost their own mothers feel, especially during this time of the year. Prayers and thanks for all of our “Mamas” still here in this world and those awaiting their children to hug them again in the next.