Friday, May 12, 2017

To the motherless children on Mother's Day -- I see you now.

First Mother's Day without my mom.

I've tried not to think about it. Tried to busy myself with other things. Tried to play it cool.

But last Sunday, as I listened to the children in my church congregation practice the Mother's Day songs they will be singing to the whole ward in two days, I felt that familiar lump rise up in my throat, the burning tears forming at the corners of my eyes. Look down. I tried to breathe calmly, but the breaths became faster and more frantic, like I was smothering. I felt like a child myself.

How am I going to get through this day?

Last Mother's Day is not a fond memory, either. My mom had just been through a week of radiation and had lost control of her bowels, couldn't keep any food or water down, and was an emotional wreck. We brought her gifts of pajamas and a "grabber" she could use to reach objects on the floor since she couldn't bend over anymore. My dad compiled a nostalgic collage of photos of us with our mom -- a collage that we'd later see again when she died.

Things looked grim last year, and I found myself knowing deep down it would be the last Mother's Day with Mom.

2016 was a year of "lasts," and 2017 is a year of firsts. First Easter. First birthdays. First Halloween (her favorite holiday). First Thanksgiving. First Christmas.

First Mother's Day.

Without her.

My past self honestly (and shamefully) never considered how the motherless must feel on this day. I was blind to their pain. But this year, it's all I can think of. The day hasn't even come, yet I'm agonized already. I regret that I ignorantly went about my life before, not stopping to think about those who struggle on Mother's Day.

If you will be motherless this Sunday, just know I see you now. I see your trepidation as you enter the chapel at church, avoiding glances and dreading conversation. I see that single tear rolling down your cheek during the Mother's Day song. I see you wanting nothing more than to run away. I see the forced smile as your kids shower you with breakfast and handmade gifts. I see the memories behind your eyes, the ones clawing their way out as you will them to stay away, at least until you can be alone.

I see you now, and I know it hurts. If you want a hug, I'm here with my arms open. If not, just know that I'm in the boat with you -- the boat no one wants to be on. You can take comfort in my company.


This photograph features two objects that have provided me with peace lately. The first is the vase of pink carnations -- my mom's favorite flower. A friend brought them to me yesterday. She knew the upcoming holiday would be tough for me and thought of this easy yet profound way to let me know she cares. In my grief, I have appreciated the outreach of others more than anyone will know. Even the simplest gestures are incredibly helpful in healing my broken heart.

The second item is a print called "We Are All a Part of God's Family" by Caitlin Connolly. It depicts our Heavenly Parents and all of their beautiful children. I have found comfort in believing that whether my mother is on earth or beyond, she is mine for eternity, and that all of us have a Heavenly Mother who loves us beyond measure.

When I look at this gorgeous print, I think about how much my mom would've loved it. She is the one who taught me of Mother in Heaven as a child. It was her confidence in that doctrine that allowed me to never question it, and to never question the divinity within myself. Because of my mom, Heavenly Mother is as real to me as the rising of the sun.

Sunday is going to come and go. It will be painful in some ways and surprisingly easy in others, I'm sure. (These "firsts" are also kind of unpredictable.) I will honor my mother and the motherly figures in my life, both living and deceased. But I will also hold space for those who are hurting, because sometimes these wonderful days of celebration are painful. I've only just begun to understand. I just wish it hadn't taken 30 years.

11 comments:

  1. Last mother's day was my first without my mother and it was exactly 2 weeks after she passed. I was asked to give the prayer and did so dutifully but was in tears before I could start. Last week I was asked to speak for mother's day and before I could speak Seth told him no. (I love that man) This year isn't much easier. Like you, I've been dreading Sunday, but this is nothing new as I found out my mother had ppa before my first mothers day as a mother myself. I have a sick toddler this year so I will likely just ditch church, which is what I always want to do but never have the guts. Sorry I don't have anything positive to add, but this is the truth of a motherless mother's day.

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    1. It really does suck. I will be thinking of you on Sunday.

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  2. Perfectly said Jenna -Daughters who are missing their mothers on Mother's Day (and every day really) are going through a lot of pain, often we hide it for the sake of everyone else, I appreciate you sharing what many of us can't express as eloquently as you

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  3. Oh Jenna! Your words are beautiful and my heart hurts for you. I hope and pray that you have a Sunday that is full of comfort and peace.

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  4. I love that picture. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you this weekend.

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  5. You've been on my mind daily as so many dear friends and Meg will also be facing this Mother's Day with great sorrow. But I have to believe the 1st Mother's Day without your dear mom, has to be heart wrenching. My heart aches for each child who will feel that tremendous void this Mother's Day��❤

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  6. Jenna, you write so beautifully just perfectly. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and you and your family are in my prayers. I miss your mom so much and many times think I want to tell her or ask her a question but I quickly realize I can't. Thank you again for sharing your beautiful words.

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  7. I loved how she loved Halloween:) I will be thinking of her tomorrow and how she inspired me to be a great mother .
    JulieAnne

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  8. Hugs to you, my dear. Mother's Day is the most impossible day for me too.

    xox

    (Also? Not sure why I am JUST realizing that you have a blog...Harriet fail.)

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