Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers! Even though I know this day will bring some pain, I wish an especially joyous day to the wonderful lady I helped to become a mother. I have never seen a better one. I have also never seen one cry so much and although I am not the cause of (most of) the tears, I am sorry for that.
Please allow me a moment to brag on my wife. We have never had a large budget, but whatever she could invest, she put into building our home – not the physical structure but the walls of love that hold us up. Home has always been a safe place for our girls – a refuge. It is a place where they feel free to be themselves. They played pretend, dressed up, built blanket forts, made crafts, held concerts, snuggled, read, stayed in jammies all day, ate chocolate breakfasts, taught each other school, colored, and made wonderful make-believe worlds filled with Barbies, princesses, and unicorns. Sometimes they even fought – but they always made up. The home she built is a beautiful sanctuary to the mean world that lies outside our little acreage.
I point to three evidences of her daughters’ love of their home.
- Whenever our girls’ teenage friends are looking for a place to hang out, they seem to always end up at our home because they know mom will drop everything to welcome them.
- Over the years we have acquired several “bonus children” – friends of our daughters who often visit even when our actual child isn’t at home.
- In her final days, when Kylie knew of her fate, she chose home over trying to make a desperate dash to New York City. Despite the fact that the Make-a-Wish trip included an appearance on a Broadway stage, she just wanted to go home.
When we started the grieving process after Kylie’s death, I asked my wife if we needed to move – to expunge that bad memory and start afresh. After all, she died in the very bed where we sleep. Not that I wanted to move, but it sounded logical to me. I was immediately rebuffed. She didn’t want to get a new bed and didn’t even want new sheets! Her mother’s heart yearned for this place… these things… this home. This is where she raised her little chicks and although she wishes they were all still in the nest, it is where she feels most at home and where she most remembers the little one that has flown away.
There is no right or wrong in grief, there is only the griever’s best way.
The tears I mentioned. Those tears are real, palpable expressions of how much she misses Kylie. They are easily spilt and easily wiped, but often hard to stop. After six months or so, I noticed that they seemed to be slowing and thought that may be a good sign. When I mentioned it to her, I got a true sense of a mother’s love because I learned that she doesn’t cry less, but she often cries alone so that home doesn’t turn into a gloomy place of grief for her remaining daughters. She wants their home to heal even though she fears her heart will not. That is true love… a mother’s love.
She has been blessed to receive many gifts since Kylie’s death – most from other mothers whose sympathetic hearts cannot imagine the loss. They often take the form of jewelry. One piece from a long-time friend always seemed to find her wrist. It was a simple silver band that said, “Three here, one home.”
I was surprised she gravitated to that one. To a woman who loves home, the words sound counter-intuitive. After all, one isn’t home. We feel her nothomeness constantly. The shuttered door of her room at the top of the steps cries out emptiness. We have many things here to remind us of her, but Kylie is certainly not home.
Her fondness of that piece is telling. It took me a while to understand, but I finally figured it out. Even in grief’s darkest days, through tears of pain shed in silence, she knows we aren’t abandoned. While we are surrounded by the emptiness of this place – we don’t hear Kylie singing or feel her early morning snuggles, our faith tells us where she resides. Jesus said:
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2 (NLT)
Her mother’s heart may ache for the remainder of its days, but this place is not our home regardless of the joy, love, and memories it contains. They are but a pittance of what we will know when we join Kylie in our true home.
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)
Three here, one home is a way to remind herself and tell others that she has four daughters – one is not minimized or forgotten though she is not present. While sometimes we shout through a bullhorn that cancer took our child, often we want to avoid confrontation and not make someone feel bad for asking the innocent question, “How many children do you have?”
She loved that piece of jewelry and wore it constantly. So imagine her sorrow when earlier this year she discovered it missing after a trip. It came off for airport security and never came back on. She was despondent.
But today, on Mother’s Day, Kylie and her three sisters have replaced it with an exact replica. Because, although this home is incredibly nice – filled with the memories of days when all four were together and the love of three who remain, it is nothing compared to the home that awaits us. The home in which one already resides.
Three Here, One Home
Blessings this Mother’s Day. Mothers, may you feel loved, appreciated, and special. May your homes be full of laughter and joy and may you cherish every moment with your children who are here. For those mothers who have lost a child, I pray you can treasure the memories of the times you had here with the knowledge that your baby is preparing a room for you in an even more wonderful home.