“It’s only for a while we must part, so bless the memories that lie within your heart.”
... author unknown
Spring. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day.
It is a beautiful, sunny day as I write this. The sun pours through the window of my office bringing hope that more flowers will open today. In the air hangs the promise of a warm day.
Spring. Easter. Passover. Call it what you will. This time of year promises us wonderful things. We emerge from doldrums of winter and look up towards the sun with such hope. The crocuses poke their heads upward toward the sun as if to proclaim, “Hey, we’re here! Winter is over.”
As we emerge from the winter of our grief, spring holds such promise. The grief we face after the death of a loved one places us in the heaviest part of winter. Writers talk of “the winter of our soul.” We feel steeped in grief. Our feet are so packed into the ice and snow that we can’t move. People tell us “it will get better”, and we hear this in an uncomprehend-ing stupor. They promise us a spring when our reality knows with certainty, they are wrong.
And yet-one day- a slight lifting occurs. A thaw begins. A warm puff of air drifts past as we shake a rug out the back door.
“Is it possible?” We ask. Do we dare hope?
Just as we begin to think of possibilities, a new blizzard comes bringing with it more snow and ice; more bitterly cold winds. And yet, again, as we pass a window one day, we see the sun poking through the clouds. Again, we dare to believe that spring will come.
For those of us who once thought that winter was a season that lasted from January to January, I can reassure you that spring does eventually come. Our burden feels lighter. It is not gone. It will never be gone.
Of all the holidays I continue to experience almost 26 years after my mom’s death, it is Mother’s Day that still tugs the hardest at my heart. The tears spring to my eyes even now as I write this. From the time I open my eyes that day, I know. I talk to her more that day than probably any other. I thank her for being my mom. I apologize for not knowing enough to help her. I tell her I love her. I think of all the memories I carry in my heart.
“tho you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near.” – Same unknown author
I have recently talked with some brand new survivors. They tell me of their dreams. They tell me of feeling the presence of their loved one and wonder if they’re crazy. I assure them that it is that presence that often helps us through our grief. I believe that mom is with me.
“And if you listen with your heart
You will hear
All of my love around you
Soft and clear.” – Same unknown author
Each and every survivor ultimately knows that their special person is always near. We cannot touch them, hug them or see their smile. That is OUR grief. That is part of OUR loss. We grieve for ourselves. The loss is unmistakable and it enters every part of our being. We ache to hold them, hug them, and hear their voice. We can understand that one day we will see them again but…until then...it hurts!
It is on Mother’s Day, while I work in my flower gardens, that I feel the closest to her. She was not a gardener, so it isn’t that connection. Perhaps it’s the raw earth that I can tie to my still (yes, I confess) momentary feelings. Perhaps it’s the beauty and gentleness of the flowers going into the dirt that reminds me of her beauty and gentleness. Her fragility was the part of what lead to her death. The flowers will eventually die, too. Some of them reseed and return next year. Her “seeds” are not only her children and grandchildren but her thoughts and the lessons she taught.
This past week, Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84. You would have to be out in the wilderness not to know this since our TV’s and newspaper are filled with the stories on the Pope. As we watch millions of people grieve, let us remind our-selves that it is “okay” to grieve publicly. When we feel that others disapprove of our open grief or of stories we tell our loved ones, let us remember the grief we are seeing demonstrated by people who never even met the man!
The promise is spring.
The seasons change; the seasons flow one into another. Burdens shared are burdens made lighter.
As we move into the time of Mother’s Day, first and foremost, hug yourself. If you are facing first Mother’s day without your mom or child or sibling or spouse or friend, be gentle with yourself. For those of us who are beyond that “first”, we, too, need to remember. We, too, still need to cry. Then, as gently as the first flowers begin to poke up through the earth, rejoice at the spring within your soul. Remember...always remember… that the price of loving so deeply is that we grieve just as deeply. We would not have traded a minute of knowing them for what we are experiencing now. We would not be who we are now if they had not been a part of our life.