Thursday, May 6, 2010

Melancholy mama

I am approaching Mother's Day with a heavy heart this year. It is hard for me to put aside the fact that, without our loss earlier this year, I would've been 24 weeks pregnant this Sunday. Additionally, many friends of mine have also lost pregnancies in the past year, and earlier this week, I witnessed a very old friend standing at the graveside of his first son, barely one week old. With so much loss, it is hard to be excited about gifts and cards in celebration of motherhood.

It is not like me to focus on what's missing, and yet, this year, those missing things seem too significant to overlook. The missing pink line on a pregnancy test. The missing bump in my middle. The missing baby from my friend's newborn-ready apartment.

Opening the door to parenthood makes you vulnerable to measureless heartache. Loved ones all around me have had their hearts put through the wringer while trying to conceive, or after a pregancy was lost, or a baby died. Even if your child is born healthy and grows to adulthood, you aren't immune to heartache. Your child could still hurt you, leave you, pass away. Whether you lose a child at 6 weeks pregnant, 6 weeks old, 6 years old or 60 years old, there seems to be no loss quite so tender.

When I was working in a personal care home during my university years, one of the residents lost her daughter, Joy. Joy would have been a senior citizen herself, I think, or at least very close to it, but the pain her mother experienced at her passing was overwhelming and difficult to witness. I sat with her for hours that first weekend, watching television, and holding her hand, and hearing her cry and softly sing, "I've got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart." I learned the depth of a mother's heart from her.

This week, I saw the strength of a mother's heart when I saw a young mother turn, and walk away from the grave of her only baby, as a whole crowd of mourners watched. Back at the church, when I held her hand, I glanced at her belly, still swollen from pregnancy and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." Words seem meaningless next to a loss of such magnitude. And yet, she was standing, and looked at me with the tired eyes of a mother, and thanked me.

This Mother's Day, my thoughts will be with all those families who have lost a child, and also with those who are deperately trying to conceive one. And if any of my readers are standing in that particular crowd, I wanted to share this:

It's worth it. Every penny, every sleepless night, every teardrop. Loving a child, even one not yet conceived, may open you up to no end of heartache, but there are moments with no end of joy, too. I wish for you all, Joy, down in your hearts.

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