The firsts are beyond hard. Here comes another one, Mother’s Day. What does Mother’s Day mean to a mom whose only child is dead?
Am I still a mother?
I won’t be getting any cards, well wishes, flowers, a big hug, kiss on the cheek or half-baked pancakes loaded with whip cream from my son Logan. Not that he remembered me on every Mother’s Day, mind you. But at a minimum, I would get a call from him.
The conversation would go something like this, “Hi Mom!, Mom! I love you Mom…and Happy Mother’s Day! Mom, I am sorry I couldn’t get you anything. But I will Mom. Saving up money for you. Mom, are you taking care of yourself? Are you getting out there and exercising? Mom, you know you have to do that. I miss you Mom! I am so lucky to have a Mom like you. By the way, Mom, I could use some new running shoes.” (I loved the way he repeated the word “Mom” in conversations).
The last Mother’s Day with Logan
I flew out to his boarding school in Mount Pleasant, Utah to watch Logan run in Utah’s high-school state track championships at Brigham Young University. As I was waiting in his school cafeteria while other students went out to search for him on campus, Logan walked in the room with a wrinkled blue polo shirt and his stained khaki paints, his blond tussled hair and ragged running shoes, holding two pink roses in a vase with a card. I could tell by the look on his face he was struggling with his eating disorder and anxiety, but he managed to put that aside, keep up with his grades, achieve his running time goals and remember me. What a bright light he was. He gave me a big hug and wanted to introduce me to the ladies he bought the flowers from. We walked to the florist and Logan took me back to where the women assembled the flowers and gave each of the ladies a hug. They knew him and called him fondly by his name…Logan. It seemed everyone knew him and had a story or two about him as well. How could you forget a kid wearing American flag shorts, running along the ranches of Utah with dogs following behind.
That was Logan. The sweetest…and at times, the most troubled soul ever. But he was all love as messy and hurtful as it was. God, how I love that boy.
Am I still a mom?
A few weeks ago I participated in a retreat with other bereaved parents. We came from all over the country. Strangers from many backgrounds and cultures trying to make sense of senseless acts, illnesses and accidents that overcame our children. We were not strangers at all really. We did not have to say much. The pain in our eyes did the talking. The one question I will never forget that came up, “Am I still a mom?”
The answer is…yes.
As a parent, your identity and soul are meshed with that of your child, whether you like it or not. It just is! Love has a way of doing that to you. Just about everything you do is for the good of your children. They are your purpose beyond the most successful of careers, business ventures and noble causes. When that purpose is yanked out from your life, your foundation as a human is cracked beyond repair as if a 9.5+ magnitude earthquake destroyed your world. Forget the rolling waves of grief. There is nothing “rolling” about it. I use to describe grief that way when I lost other members of my family, thinking I had the whole grief thing figured out.
When your child is gone forever, nothing is where it should be. Unknowing therapists who never lost a child advised me, “Find your new normal.” What the F….. is that? Try finding your “new normal” in the midst of utter mind-destruction. It’s like trying to find a delicate rose pedal (i.e. the fragility of life) in a swarm of broken glass, steel and concrete, sharp and mangled in an unrecognizable heap of chaos.
THERE IS NO NEW NORMAL.
Grief is your connection
But there is grief. And grief is horrifically painful, but a necessary thing to keep on living. If you flow with the grief and not deny it, not ignore it and not fight it, the grief will navigate you through the chaos of your shattered soul and keep you moving from breath to breath and then from step to step…on your journey. Not an adventure….but a journey. Adventures are fun, new and exciting. The grief journey is dark, frightening and lonely, but eventually the fear fades and you evolve to a different person. Changes are subtle, but you will never be the same. The connection to your child grows with each tear shed and scream echoed.
And as a parent, you realize your connection to your child IS the grief. That is how your child comes to you.
And the grief will be there always.
So am I Logan’s mom? Always. He gave me the gift of love to make me a better person. I am still finding my way, in his memory, in his honor, to do the right thing. TO NEVER GIVE UP.
Acknowledging Mother’s Day
I can’t say “Happy” Mother’s Day. But I can acknowledge Mother’s Day and thank my husband, Jack along with Amanda, John, Jay and Elise – for remembering me with flowers and beautiful words on behalf of Logan. I know he would approve with his wide smile, warm hug…and his beautiful blue eyes would say – thanks for remembering Mom.
Logan died in a car crash less than a half-mile from home July 22, 2016. When Logan was nine-years-old, he lost his dad to suicide. I now believe there was a lot of unresolved grief with Logan and me from his father’s tragic death. It was too much to face. I pushed to move on, to find our “new normal” instead of accepting the grief.
And to that one special woman I met at the retreat – you will always be Sam’s mom. He knows it. And so do you.