This Mother’s Day will be like no other for me. As I am writing this, my mother is lying in a hospital bed, growing weaker with each passing day and slowly drifting away from me toward death.
I am an only child. This has never meant much to me over the course of my life—until now. Now I dearly wish I had a sibling close to me so we could shed tears and share memories of my mother together. Remember when she curled my hair with rags? Remember when she clothed me—beautifully–with items from the local rummage sale? Remember when I was hit by a car and she stayed with me day and night to nurse me back to good health?
Remember…..remember…..remember. Only she and I can remember these things and now she is beyond remembering. I feel empty inside. Thank God that I am surrounded by my husband, grown children, grandchildren, dear friends and my faith community. They help to fill the emptiness with their hugs. They, too, walk the journey with me, even as we all must make this journey.
Mother’s Day has become dreadfully sentimentalized in our world.
Newspapers and social media are full of gift-buying suggestions. No mother’s life can be complete without a 12 cycle dishwasher. Or better yet—an eight day cruise on the Mediterranean Sea. Or, at the very least, two dozen roses flown in from South America. But for the first time in my life, I have found the meaning of Mother’s Day—not in chocolates and candy—but in the whispered words of a dying mother telling me that she loves me. I tell her that I love her, too, and I hope that she hears me.
God and I are having many conversations these days. Who knew that keeping watch over one’s dying mother would be so hard and painful? God knows, but I am only angry because I want her to stay with me for a few more years. After one particularly painful encounter with God, I come away spent and crying. Why me? Why my mother? She still has so much to do in this life.
But then it dawns on me. I am caught up in the cycle of life, a cycle my Mom has lived much longer than many folks are blessed to live.
We are born, we live and then we die. But it is in the living of those years—no matter how long or short—that the purpose and direction and meaning of life is forged. My mother has forged, through hard work and her limitless capacity to love and forgive, a beautiful life that she shared with me. I can ask nothing more of her. She has given me all that she can.
And, so, I will kiss her on the forehead, whisper in her ear, and tell her I love her as she drifts into her new life lived in the nearer presence of God. I know that I will never be the same. My heart is forever etched with the remembering of the life we shared.