Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I have a love/hate relationship with Mother's Day. It's a bittersweet holiday for me, considering that I lost my mother when I was 19 and then my son when I was 29. For many years, I just wanted to move on to Ground Hog's Day!
I'll never forget the first Mother's Day after Jonah died. I was invited by the Children's pastor to a Mother's Tea. Lindsay and a dozen other three year-olds had been working feverishly on some craft project for weeks. The children marched in proudly in their Sunday best, singing a happy little song as they presented us with our gifts. It was all very sweet.
But then Elona, the preschool teacher, pulled out the children's classic, "I'll Love You Forever," and began to read with her wise and soothing voice. As the other mothers basked in the tale of undying love between a mother and child, I looked at the floor and tried desperately not to cry. I always thought the little boy in the story looked a lot like Jonah.
I was doing fine until the first chorus of: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." A tsunami wave of grief washed over me with such fierceness that I fled the room sobbing. I took refuge in a stall in the Women's restroom, but I was crying so loudly that Elona (who'd put the story on hold) tracked me down. She was mortified that the story had caused me such pain.
"What hurt?" she asked, wrapping her arms around me.
"As long as I'm living," I managed between sobs, "I'll love Jonah. He's still my baby . . . it doesn't matter that he's gone."
Grief, thankfully, mellows with age and I still have three very thoughtful daughters who greatly bless me on the second Sunday in May--and the rest of the year as well. Lately, though, I've had to adjust to phone calls and cards as my girls have moved away from home (I'm so glad you're still here, Yellie!)
Even though she was in another state, Candyce gave me a very special gift this year. She called me from Sacramento with an odd request.
"Mom, how do I get to the cemetery?" she asked. "I thought you would like it if I took some pinwheels to Jonah's grave. Since it's Mother's Day and all."
It had been years since we'd been to Mt. Vernon cemetery as a family, but before we moved away from California, we'd visited Jonah's grave on a regular basis. Sometimes we brought flowers, but usually it was a fresh batch of pinwheels that we planted around the tiny headstone. We'd sit in the grass and tell Jonah stories as we watched the pinwheels spring to life with each new breeze. I always felt it was Jonah's way of reminding us that he was still with us, still a part of our family. It was a comfort to my heart . . .
As was Candyce's phone call last week! And she did take pinwheels--four of them--to Jonah's grave and told his stories to her new friends. And I forgot to ask, but I'm sure the pinwheels danced in the fading light of day . . .
This year, I didn't cry.