Yesterday was a regular day around here; Dr. appointment, kids playing, chores, and school work. I'm trying desperately to wrap my brain around computery things and discovering that most how-to's and tutorials assume a level of prior knowledge that I do not have, so I spent hours studying/working and have very little show for it.
At some point I logged on to the breastfeeding support group that I help run and found that one of our mamas had experienced the unimaginable, the loss of her 10 month old baby. That kept me preoccupied for much of the rest of the day. Not actually doing anything, but thinking about it extensively, considered ways to reach out, and yes, crying for this dear mama.
Josie often climbs into our "remembering spot" and looks through photo albums of Mom, but yesterday it just caught me in the gut. I'm getting to that grief stage where it is not constant, but when it occurs it is very forceful. And so, I sat with her, held my child, and remembered.
So between the frustration of hitting brick walls in my studying, having a grief day in our home, and the loss of this baby being on the forefront of my mind, it was a rather topsy-turvy day, emotionally speaking. Last night after a grocery run and picking up the kids from VBS, I sat down again to quickly check in on FB before bed. There was the little red flag notice that I had a message and it said a friend had sent a photo. I opened it and saw the beautiful photo I've shared here.
Back story - after mom passed away, I was struggling with how to talk to the kids about the fact that her body was not going to be interred in a casket the way they may have seen in movies or shows. I spoke about this with a friend who I just think the world of. He has a way with words and a way of viewing things that I often haven't considered. He did help me out by talking through this and giving me some ideas. A few days later, he wrote to tell me that as they worked in their yard this spring, his family had planted a sunflower in honor of my mother. Yesterday it bloomed and he sent me this photo.
As I sat and cried, cried for this mama who is just crushed with grief, cried for myself and our family as we experience this very different kind of grief and trying to figure out our new normal, I also cried over this gift of love and friendship. This gift of their family remembering and honoring someone they've never met.
At the end of the day, we want to know that our loved one mattered, that their life meant something, that someone else in this world is holding space for them. We need to know that our loved one's life had meaning, and of course by extension, that our lives have meaning. Let me be clear, I believe in eternity and heaven, but for now, I'm a temporal being in a temporal world and the here and now is what really resonates with me.
We each need to know that we matter, that someone would miss us if we were gone. Struggling hearts often express, “no one would miss me if I weren't here, so what is there to live for?” And on some level we all wonder that. Will there even be a hole when I am gone? We recognize that we are but a speck in the vast universe, but we have this immense need to know that our speck matters. That the speck of those whom we loved, matters.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to a person who is grieving is the gift of remembering their loved one-and letting them know that you do. So every February, I think of Ellen and remember her loss. Every July, I reach out to Belinda as she grieves her husband. Every time I see a giraffe, I think of Ruth's mom.
Tim has passed this gift to me. That sunflower is going to complete its bloom, the seeds will feed birds and some will drop (or be collected) and re-grow next year. And thus, in a yard, 3,000 miles away, my mother's memory is nurtured. Her speck is enlarged. My heart is healed.