I keep cards. I have this box under my bed that’s full of memories and notes from friends and family who have given me wishes on special occasions. I picked up this habit from my mother. She always kept cards we kids gave her.
When she passed away we found many boxes and containers full of cards and memorabilia that she kept through the years. Cards with our names scribbled on them from elementary years. Quick one-liners when we were in high school. Long note filled ones from our adulthood. She kept many of them.
I think she kept them to remind herself that she was loved by her children, even though we didn’t always treat her like we loved her.
I also believe she kept them because she knew one day she would be gone and we would need them. She had a habit during the last few years of her life of giving us things and saying things she wanted us to know before she was gone.
She knew we would need those cards as a reminder of how much she loved us.
Today I went to the store to buy cards for all my sisters for Mother’s Day. This is the first year I am not buying a Mother’s Day card for Mom. Had I known last year was our last one together, I wonder what I would have done differently. I stopped in the middle of the aisle, trying to keep it together. Trying to keep myself from crying. Trying to keep all the memories at bay that come with Mother’s Day.
You know what I remember feeling and thinking the most on Mother’s Day growing up? I always had the abundant feeling knowing my mom loved me. I thought about all that she did for me. All the rights. All the wrongs. The gifts. The notes. The fights. But I always knew she loved me. No matter what, I could come to her as I was, flaws and all, and she accepted me with open arms. We had our fights and we certainly weren’t perfect, but I still knew.
I often wonder what days like this will be like for me ten, twenty years from now. Will the grief feel as raw? Will the holidays have a small emptiness that won’t ever fill?
A friend of mine once said that the rawness of grief never really goes away. There are times when it becomes less raw but it’s there, ready to bleed with the slightest prick. You might even go days without thinking about your lost loved one. But then the moments come. Moments you can’t help but embrace on days like Mother’s Day.
Maybe you’re a mother who is missing one at her table as you celebrate your day. Your heart aches, wondering if your lost daughter would have had your hair. Or maybe your mom has been gone for years but when you wake in the morning on this day you can’t help but make pancakes to keep up the tradition she started when you were a girl.
Maybe you lost your sister and her family is walking through this holiday without her sweet presence. Maybe you lost your husband and he’s not there to celebrate with you and your children.
Maybe you’ve lost someone close and all you can think about are the what ifs for them on this day.
Know you are not alone.
Know that there is a mother down the road who woke up with tears in her eyes, missing a part of her that is gone from this earth.
Don’t let all the Hallmark platitudes get to you this year.
Throw out all the rules of what you’re supposed to feel on this day.
Instead of walking through this day thinking of all the things you should be doing, just take a moment, stop and breathe.
Even if you don’t feel like. God doesn’t need our hearts to feel perfect in order to come to him with our anger and frustration.
Take your heavy heart to the foot of the cross and nail it there.
Nail the anger of loss. Nail the sorrow that Satan won’t let you shake. If you need to wrestle some more with it, then do it. God’s waiting and He’s not going anywhere. He can handle your grappling.
And as you open your heart, let the One who holds your heart hold your sorrow. Let him grieve with you.
You may not feel like being grateful for what you have on Mother’s Day because all you can think about is what you’ve lost.
And that’s OK. The thanks will come.
Our grief doesn’t hang on a single holiday experience.
This morning I took out my box of cards. I have one card from my mom on Mother’s Day. She was alive for my first year of Mother’s Day and it was the last one we had before she left. And while I held that card in my hands, I couldn’t help but look up and nod. Nodding to mom, whispering to myself “I know, Mama. I know.” I now understand the importance of a mother’s love. And I knew I wasn’t alone in that moment.
Who are you missing this Mother’s Day? As always, I love hearing from you. Much love to you friends,