This Must Be What It’s Like
I stood at the church after sharing our family’s story beside my table display of items Sufficient Grace Ministries gives to bereaved parents. She walked up quietly, standing beside me, eyes peering beneath her gray hair, waiting until I finished hugging the tearful mother who had recently lost her baby. Just above a whisper, mustering the courage, she spoke the words.
“Many years ago, I lost a son.”
I saw the grief flickering in her eyes. I saw the empty ache that lives within the years. I saw the gaping hole in her heart…the baby-sized hole. The one hidden away most days. She wasn’t able to hold him. But, he was here. He lived. He has a name. He mattered. He matters still.
It doesn’t matter how many years have passed, a mother never forgets her baby. The years pass and we learn to live again, even embracing life…because they lived. We laugh and we cry and we make memories. Time marches forth with its relentlessness. Healing and breaking us all at the same time. But, in all of it, a mother never forgets her baby.
It doesn’t matter how healthy we are in our grief, how much hope we carry, how much we choose to embrace the gifts of this life, there is a dance…a sacred dance of grief and joy (Angie Smith) woven together in the tapestry of our lives. So, even in the joy there is a hint of the missing.
Last week, I went shopping with my amazing assistant, Emily. As we sifted through vintage dresses and haggled over antique furniture, I felt it.
This must be what it’s like to have a daughter. I haven’t had this feeling of the sheer enjoyment and the ease of being with someone who knows you and gets you since laughing together in my mother’s kitchen almost a decade ago. I was the daughter then, in my mother’s kitchen. And almost twenty years ago, my dreams of a life filled with laughter in the kitchen, sharing stories with my own twin daughters, while we baked chocolate chip cookies were changed in an instant. Gone.
While my life today is full of love and blessings, and goodness…and even with the gift of motherhood as we’ve raised two boys into men, there are glimpses of what isn’t from time to time. Even all these years later.
For on that shopping day, I felt the whisper of carefree and fullness that I haven’t felt since my mother and daughters were with me, when all of life and all that could be dreamed still seemed so…possible. And in the midst of the familiar glimpse of laughter in the kitchen (or shopping)…the ache.
This must be what it’s like.