Tag Archives: mothers

Guest Post: 5 Years – It Seems Impossible!

I am thrilled to have Jeannine Sawall sharing on the blog today.  Our paths crossed at a Moms/Sons Weekend at Village Creek Bible Camp a few years ago. We have a lot in common and enjoy being Facebook friends.  Yesterday Jeannine posted this essay on Facebook, and I asked if I could share it as a post on my blog.  I am so grateful that she agreed.  Thanks, Jeannine!

Today marks the fifth anniversary of my Mom’s going home.  

It seems impossible to believe that much time has passed since she was suddenly and unexpectedly plucked from our lives.  It seems impossible that in that time, I have had two sons get their licenses, start and graduate from high school and the older one of them start and finish his first year of college.  My younger two sons have finished elementary school and moved onto middle school.  My brother started and graduated from college and started his career as a nurse.  My step-dad has re-married and relocated twice already! And what does all that have to do with my mom’s passing?  It seemed impossible at the time life could move on, but it has.

In those first few days/weeks after my mom died, it seemed impossible in some moments for me to breathe, let alone get up, shower, go to work and carry on with life.  They were hard, grief filled days of sorrow and missing; heavy days where “gravity becomes so physical you wonder if the horizon changed directions” and you just never noticed.  How could we ever move on?  But since the sun continues to rise and set despite the missing; hours turned into days, days into weeks and weeks into years and we are at another anniversary.

And it’s a strange thing, the anniversary of losing someone…do you celebrate?  Do you grieve openly without feeling like you’re looking for pity or that you should have “moved on already?”  Does it make others feel uncomfortable and if they do, is that their problem or mine?  Even the theraputic effect sharing my feelings with the written word offers…there’s a part of me that wonders if after 5 years, I should remember alone? Grief becomes a solitary journey the more time passes.  But I can say,  even 5 years later, I sometimes feel like I want/need the affirmation that it’s still okay to cry because I miss my mom; especially on days like today.

So while it seems impossible we could ever move on after the loss of my mom, we have and we are.  The Lord continues to offer His love and comfort each and every day.   I am able to look up and see my God who sees me; who has grieved with me and who comforts me.  I have had friends who have walked along side and while the journey has grown more solitary, they are always there on days I need them.  God has raised up women in my life who stand in the gap for my mom. I love them and am so grateful for their presence.  My brother and I continue to share a close relationship and we remember together.  And on those tear filled days, when the missing still takes my breath away, while it seems impossible, I am able to look forward with hope to an incredible reunion and I know without a doubt my mom is more alive today than she was on this morning 5 years ago.  It seems impossible, but I am really and truly jealous of her.

5 years….it seems impossible.  Love and miss you Mom!  Save a place for me!!

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”~Matthew 19:26

About the author: Jeannine is a wife and busy mother of four boys. She works in property management, writes for FreshStart Devotions, and actively walks besides those experiencing grief.  Jeannine lost her mom 5 years ago in a car accident and shares openly and honestly about her journey through grief and “the missing.”

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What I Want for Mothers’ Day

Frequent readers, friends, and family members know that my mom passed away nearly ten years ago.  I do not remember the last Mothers’ Day I had with her; in fact, I do not think I was with her.  I actually do not think, at the time of Mothers’ Day that year, that I had accepted that she would die even though all indications had made that pretty clear.  I do not remember the first Mothers’ Day after she died or any particular ones after that one.

Sometimes we choose to forget things that are painful.

Mothers’ Day should not be a day filled with pain, regret, fear, hurt, disappointment, or sadness. Yet – because life is what it is – we know that it is not pain free.  We read it on the internet, we hear it from friends, and we know it in our hearts.  Most of our greatest celebrations in life come with that tinge of some unwelcome feeling.

Sitting on my dining room table as I write these words is a box. On that box, my daughter has written, “Happy Mothers’ Day!”  I will open this gift tomorrow, and I will love whatever is in the box because my children put thought and time into choosing something to give me.

What they do not know and may never fully understand is that no gift could ever be better than the fact that they exist.  To be their mom has been one of the top three most defining and fulfilling experiences in my entire life.  They are the best gift that they could give me, and that has already happened.

But what I want this Mothers’ Day is not a thing, an experience, or even my kids.

I want things to be different for people who cannot celebrate well on this day.

I want “wanna-be moms” to know that they are important and have something to give regardless of whether they have children from their own wombs.  I do not use “wanna-be” in a derogatory sense here, and I apologize if anyone takes it that way.  Most of the time if we want to be something, we see something in a position or other person that we want to emulate or copy.  There are so many women – who want to be moms and who would make great moms – who are not.  For Mothers’ Day this year, I want them to know that they are important, have much to give to children around them, and are a vital part of society.  I want these women to be celebrated rather than relegated to the sidelines.

I want all kids to grow up with moms who raise them well and with a lot of love.  This is a pretty tall order, but I want it.  I do not want foster care to be a need in our country.  According to adoptioninstitute.org, “Between 1971 and 2001, U.S. citizens adopted 265,677 children from other countries.”  Imagine – if that many have been adopted, how many more remain without forever families?  At the same time, according to childrensrights.org, “On any given day, there are approximately 400,000 children in out-of-home care in the United States.”  We have so much need inside of our own country.  I want children who are currently abandoned worldwide or in United States foster care to find loving homes, and I want the reasons that these needs exists to be erased from our world.

I want women who have lost children due to death, miscarriage, or abortion to feel joy on this day again. I have no idea how to make this happen.  I feel like a broken record as I keep saying this.  But I want it.  I want those who feel that today is all about loss – a harsh remembrance of the grief that they feel – to know that today can be a day when they honor those who are no longer … or never were … with them.  For some, they do not appear to be mothers because there was no child outside of the womb. I say to you, “You are mothers!” I realize that I may be causing controversy by including mothers who aborted children in this paragraph, but my interactions with those who have chosen abortion tells me that their loss is similar – and as complicated – to those who have lost children through other ways. How can we – as a society – show them that they are still honored today? I want moms who deal with the death of a child – however it occurred – to know that God’s love is great.

I want those who have lost moms to be comforted.  I used to think that time healed fully.  What I have realized is that time creates a scab on wounds and that days, events, reminders, pull those scabs off and reveal the wound again. Mothers’ Day can be one of those events.  As the ten years have passed, the wound under the scab has become less intense, but the removal of the scab – whatever pulls it off hurts.  The pain is intense for a while, and then it goes for a while.  Some of us search for other people could “be mom” to us, but that only goes so far.  Eventually, we realize that it just is not enough. And it never will be.  I would love for moms to stop dying, but that is not the world that we live nor will it likely ever be.  If they did not mean so much to us, it would not hurt so much when they were gone.  Even if our relationships were strained, we hurt for what could have been.

As I wrap up this post, I want to share a bit from my faith-walk in this area.

God does not ignore us or turn a blind eye to our pain.  He sees us, He hears us, and He wants things to be different as well.  The mystery of free will means that pain will stay in our lives, but – in knowing God through His Son – we can see things differently.  We can look up from our situation and see that there is more going on in a situation than just our pain.  We can cry out in agony to the God who hears.  He will turn our mourning into dancing.  He will – some day in heaven – dry every tear, hold us close, and whisper, “You are mine, and you will never hurt again.”

Until then, may we be that voice for each other.

Whether you know it or not, You belong to God.  He sees your pain today and every day – whether Mothers’ Day related or not.  And He wants to hear from you.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

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Mother’s Day Musings

It is Saturday evening, and I cannot write a blog post.

I have sat in front of the computer screen, walked around the house, opened the refrigerator, taken my blood pressure, unloaded the dishwasher, and put on my sexy anti-embolism stockings.  Basically, I want to write a blog post for Mother’s Day that is inspiring and wonderful, but it just is not in me.

I just want to sit in front of my iPad watching “Law&Order: SVU” – I am pretty sure that I am addicted.

This is my ninth Mother’s Day without my mom; she died in June 2003 from a weird cancer.  I try very hard to enjoy Mother’s Day even though she is no longer with me.  I try to find another woman to celebrate in some way.  Most years I give a card or a gift to someone who has been important to me or could use encouragement in that year.  It has been a great way to enjoy Mother’s Day.

This year, I was supposed to be in Rhode Island visiting my grandmother and other relatives – most of them women.  I had looked forward to this Mother’s Day as a way to be with those wonderful women on Mother’s Day.  Due to the recent health stuff I had going on, I returned home rather than going out east.  As much as I see this being necessary and good, I am sad.

And I am excited about tomorrow because I have great kids who will celebrate me well.  I honestly have no idea what my problem is!

Earlier in the day, “Really Rosie” crossed my mind.  The kids had decided to go to Southwest High School’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” – the boy saw it last night and wanted to see it again.  The small cast size of the show reminded me of some of my community theater days, and “Really Rosie” was one of my favorites.

You can watch the cartoon of the musical on YouTube.  It is only about half an hour long. Click here to watch Part 1Click here to watch Part 2.

Musicals have been a huge part of my life which makes them a big part of my life both as daughter and as mother.  My mom and I worked on a musical together when I was in high school.  My kids love musicals, and we are having a great time working on these together.

It is now Sunday morning, and I remain stuck.  I took a break thinking that maybe I would come up with something great and inspiring…but I have not.

Being a mom is the best and hardest thing I have ever done.  Pouring myself into little people who are now grown people who can drive places on their own while I sit at home and pray that no one hits them on the road…well – the best and hardest thing I have ever done.  I love being the mom of my children. They are so great, and I feel as if their greatness is in spite of me rather than because of me.  I am so flawed….how could I possibly have raised these young people?

Being a daughter when the mom dies young is hard.  But when is it not hard to be the daughter when the mom dies?  I look at my friends who are ten, twenty, and thirty years my elder as they lose parents, and it does not seem any easier.  In fact, there seems to be a difficulty in their experience that I cannot relate to – they had more years.  At first, I was jealous about this and almost indignant that they had less right to sadness than I do.  But I have come to realize that it is just different.

Loss has no singular experience.

And then I know that Mother’s Day is hard on so many for other reasons – women who want children of their own but have not or may not ever, women who have lost children to miscarriage or death, and women who had chosen abortion in their past but now feel that deep loss.

So – if Mother’s Day is full of sorrow and loss, why do we celebrate?  And if this curse of pain stays with us from year to year, why should we set aside an entire day for this painful experience?

Days like to day are important.  When grief is part of our experience, we can push it under the surface and move on without having to deal with it.  We go on as if the painful experiences did not happen.  Our culture expects us to do this.  Other cultures allow for extended mourning periods, but ours does not.  In order to face our culture, we give in to it and pretend that we are ok.  And in doing so, we harm ourselves.  Because others do not know how to deal with us in our pain – even, at times, those who share similar experiences – we create an unhealthy façade.

We hurt ourselves in this, and we hurts others in doing this.  We provide an example for those around us that we says, “I can handle this.”  And in doing so, we also say, “You must handle your loss as well.”

But days like Mother’s Day come, and we cannot ignore the pain or the sorrow.  The truth of our experience wells up in us and – because we have not dealt with things appropriately – we hurt and want the day to go away.  We want to stay home from church where we are faced with other people’s Mother’s Day moments because that is not our experience – maybe it never was or maybe it just is not anymore.

But we should not stay home from church, and we should not hide our pain.  We were built for community, and our community was created in order to share with us in our sorrows as well as in our joy.  Even in the midst of our pain, we need to be able to celebrate who our mothers were and the joys of others who still have their mothers with them.

Additionally, we need to look around us and see others who are in pain as well.  Pain shared is easier to carry ourselves.  Having a good, possibly brief, cry of remembrance together could be what we all need today in order to then celebrate what we have or what others have.

And for me – I need to look in the faces of my children and remember that this day is as much for them as it is for me.  They want to celebrate me (they gifted me with a great bag this year, and I love it), and I need to be 100% in that celebration without tainting it for them.

This has turned into quite a little rant, and I doubt that it has much coherence, but I am going to hit “publish” anyway.  If anything, I want to encourage us all to look a bit outside of ourselves today and honor those who have mothered for they have done a difficult work.  And may God bless us with the joy and hope that comes from His word and His saving act of sending His son to die for us.  It is in this that all pain and sorrow will one day make sense even though today it seems beyond our understanding.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Oy vey!

Almost sixteen years ago, one of the best moments of my life occurred: my daughter was born.  I was twenty-one years old and in my last semester of college.  Her due date was February 21, but my pregnancy was making me sick.  Not just nauseous but very, very sick.  Rather than continue in the risk, our doctor performed a c-section, and the result was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen and have yet ever to meet.

That beautiful baby grew into a cute toddler and has now returned to beauty both in her physical appearance as well as in her personality.  I could not have ever imagined that being mom to this person would bring me such joy.  Watching her on stage last month took my breath away.  On closing night, I cried because it was the last performance of her breath-taking solo.  Listening to her talk about her passions, joy, and heartaches make me proud to have been a small part of her life.  I know that God has great things in store for her, and I am so thankful that He chose me to be her mom.  Although I hold her loosely in my hands knowing that she is simply on loan to me until she has her own wings to fly, I count each day a blessing until she moves on from us.

By the way, two years suddenly feels like a very, very short amount of time when I am faced with the reality of June 2014 – graduation day.

Last night I encountered a new experience.  I was exhausted – not new.  But Beth needed some things for a dinner party she is attending on Saturday – also not new.  I sat in the car while she shopped at the thrift store (also not new) and found some perfect items for her costume.  It got cold in the car, and I am not really pro-running of the car when I am just sitting in it.  I went into the store just in time to pay for her things.  And that is when it happened – the boy (yes, boy) at the counter hit on my daughter!

The story: I commented to my daughter about the “uniqueness” of the purse she bought and somehow the cashier chimed into our conversation.  I will relay it to the best of my memory (forgive me, daughter, for any creative liberties I take).

He: Oh, are these for some kind of party or something?

She: Yeah…it’s for a murder mystery dinner party.  My character is an author.

He: My friends never do anything fun like that.

She: Oh, it’s my speech team.  The coach is having all of the captains over…and the drama club officers.

He: My school never does anything like that.  What school do you go to?

She: Fridley. *insert coy smile and higher pitched voice*

He: Oh.  I go to Park Center – just up the road here.

She: Oh. *insert giggle here*

While this conversation was going on, I was going through the motions of paying for the stuff and trying not to laugh.  When we got outside, I said to my daughter, “The awkward moment when you realize a boy is hitting on my daughter…and she likes it.”  She was a bit indignant, and then she said something about this event ending up in the blog.

Well, dear, here it is.  I know that you are beautiful, inside and out, but I do not know that I am ready to witness these events!

Oy vey.

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