So how can I feel so blessed?
I prayed for rain today, Mother’s Day, because I wanted God to cry with me for my loss. Today is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I imagine it is the first Mother’s Day without a mom for many around the world, as COVID-19 has stolen loved ones far too soon.
At least my mother’s death was no surprise, and I had years to mourn her absence in my life, which I admit seems like a lousy detail for thanks. But it makes this first Mother’s Day truly without her in this world much easier.
This morning, in our online church service, my pastor taught from the Scripture in John in which Jesus, dying on the cross, assigned His mother a new son and his disciple John the responsibility of caring for His mother.
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.John 19:25-27, ESV
Jesus saw His mother and His disciple standing near the cross, already mourning, and He — despite His suffering — saw them and acted to assuage their grief by giving them each other. My pastor pointed to the “mothering heart of God.”
Twenty-five years ago, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a new mom. Today my children’s ages range from 35 to 24. Only one of my 5 children is younger than 25. The math doesn’t compute, does it?
Jesus saw me then, and He sees me now.
Nearly 26 years ago, I was a widow with no children. I had always wanted children, and when my husband died at age 25, it seemed I had lost not just him but also the children we had wanted.
When all seemed lost, Jesus provided me a beautiful new life as a bride to a widower with four children, ages 9, 8, 5, and 3. I became a new wife and an instant mother in November, and by the time my first May arrived in their family, I had a new name: Mom.
What an honor!
God gave me the desire of my heart — and “an excellent opportunity for personal growth,” as my husband so aptly described parenthood. About a year after my first Mother’s Day, Steve and I added one more child to the mix, forever gluing our family together as one unit.
As I celebrate this Mother’s Day without my mother, I think of my four original children, who had lost their mother to melanoma two years before I met them. My loss of a woman who raised me and was one of my best friends for more than 50 years seems fairly small when I think how little time they had with their biological mother.
Mary Lee, their beautiful mother, died at 30. I never knew her, but she and I had a mutual friend who had asked me to pray for Mary and those she would leave behind. That mutual friend would orchestrate a blind date I had with Steve, and the resulting marriage was a match made in heaven. Our love story simply has explanation other than the God who wrote it.
Mary Lee loved Jesus. She believed that He could heal her, and she did everything in her power to live for her children. But, ultimately, when she knew that she was dying, she prayed for me, not by name, of course, but she prayed for a mother to raise her children.
Jesus heard her and answered her prayers.
I’m so thankful.
Yesterday, I spent the day surrounded by my children. By the day’s end, my cheeks displayed the gentle touch of the sun, for COVID-19 forced our togetherness to take place — socially distant — outside. The sun — and my sons, daughter, grandchildren, and the lovely in-law children who helped make them — touched me on Mother’s Day Eve and reminded me how very blessed I am.
We met at a blueberry farm yesterday morning for a socially distant but close family outing both fruity and fun. Afterward, three of my sons and my daughter-in-law surprised us at our house, laden with barbecue. We socially distanced on the shady, backyard deck and enjoyed an afternoon of delicious food and better conversation.
I am blessed.
Today, God is blessing me with rain. The earth needs it, yes, and my soul appreciates the love of God in every drop and the quiet of the morning to reflect and remember. He grieves with me, but He also reminds me of my many blessings.
Last year, I thought I would lose my mother to Alzheimer’s on Mother’s Day. She survived a few weeks beyond it, and, truthfully, she had been mentally gone for a couple of Mother’s Days before her eventual death on Memorial Day 2019.
Death, of course, is the ultimate in social isolation, but, like our current standards in society, it doesn’t last forever. I will see my mother again, when we both are in God’s presence, healthy and whole. My children have the opportunity to see their biological mother again, too. Jesus made a way.
For years before we placed my mother in a memory care facility, my youngest son, Adam, traveled with me to treat my mom on Mother’s Day. As my children did yesterday, Adam and I surprised my mom with our visit and provided the meal and time together.
My mother was a master at showing appreciation and joy. Any meal we provided was delicious. Any gesture of love, heart touching. It made the early awakening and long drive to surprise her at church well worth the trip.
I hope my children find me equally demonstrative — though hugs are few and far between, six feet far between. For they have blessed me with their acceptance of me as their mother.
Yes, I miss my mother today, but instead of being bombarded by negative emotions, I am reminded of God’s goodness. He has the ability to give me “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3, KJV).
If you, too, are motherless on this Mother’s Day or simply fearing the worst during this COVID-19 pandemic and the economic aftermath, know that Jesus sees you and He cares.
Whether He sent you rain today or not. 🙂
(The feature image shows my niece Cheryl, my sister-in-law Dixie, and my mother, taken the day we moved her to memory care.)