Since June 9, 2011, I have dreaded tomorrow. That was the day we found out Ellie had gone to Heaven. (I already had my suspicions, but it was confirmed that day.) We've been through a Father's Day since a loss, but not a Mother's Day. Since last Mother's Day Jon and I have lost two children. Last Mother's Day I was pregnant with Ellie and didn't know it. The past year has been a test to me personally and our marriage.
I know tomorrow will be hard. Jon and I have elected to skip church because it is too painful to see so many happy people recognized, while we grieve for the two babies we never met. I have a cousin who is also enduring this same emotion. Our first children should be being passed around at Grandma's, being loved on by all their aunts, uncles, and cousins. Or, assuming I've accepted the fact that Ellie is gone, my little cousin should be being loved on and my baby-filled belly being rubbed. (Poppy was due July 16.)
Instead my cousin and I are dreading tomorrow together, and doing our best to encourage one another. But it recently occurred to me that I have more reason to celebrate Mother's Day than any other mother. My children are already with Jesus. Don't get me wrong; I miss them so much every day and I want to be selfish and have them here with me. That isn't reality for me, though.
I'm going to think of Ellie and Poppy, along with their cousins who are in Heaven with them, being passed around by their great-great-grandparents and their Aunt Jenny. I know that my Ma Crabb and Mammy know them and have rocked them, just like Mammy rocked me. (I was born during Ma Crabb's funeral.) I don't remember my Aunt Jenny, but I know I would have loved her. And I know she loves my children. I've heard Mama talk about how gentle Aunt Jenny was with her family, and that her youngest daughter is natured like her. Knowing that Ellie and Poppy are not only with Jesus, but also with their sweet, gentle aunt brings me comfort. I didn't know Jon's grandparents, either. They all passed away before I joined the family. His grandmother, however, I understand held her faith very dear. Elizabeth Grace is named after her. I'm sure Mrs. Conrad is getting her turn of coddling her great-grandchildren.
I am so thankful and fortunate to have my mother as well as both grandmothers still living at the age of 27. So many people don't. I am even more thankful that when Jesus calls them Home they'll be with our children in Heaven. All three women have helped to mold me into the person I am today. I treasure them, not just for giving life to me and my parents, but also because they have trusted Jesus as their Savior and passed that heritage to me. Seeing a Christian life walked out is the best thing that can happen for a child. I had that in all three women. Since I've been an adult another very special lady has been thrown in the mix. Mothers-in-law often aren't recognized, but I do appreciate mine. She has encouraged me and loved me. She has dealt with her own struggles (a diagnosis of cancer, now in remission, praise the Lord!), yet still gave me insight and shared wisdom regarding Jon. Like my mother and grandmothers, she, too, will be with Jesus, Ellie and Poppy one day.
But on the flip side of my coin, there are people who don't have their mothers. I'm not going to say I'd forgotten about them, but I will admit in my own pain I've not focused on them. I know someone who is facing her first Mother's Day without her mother. I can't imagine what she must be feeling. I know our first Mother's Day without Mammy was beyond emotional. Like children, mothers are irreplaceable. My friend, however, like me, also has the assurance that her mother is with Jesus. Though caught up in pain, that thought is still comforting.
Tomorrow, when I am overcome with emotion, I am going to remember that our children are far better off than we. They are playing with their cousins and being rocked by their grandmamas in a wonderful place lit by Jesus' radiance. And I will know that one day I will be with them... for eternity!!