It’s not what I expected it to be.
Not even close.
It’s been better and worse, depending on the day really.
My journey to motherhood and through motherhood has not been without it’s ups and downs for sure. But then when one dives into the greatest adventure of your life, you have to expect the unexpected.
Growing up all I wanted to be was a mother. I wanted to get married and have a ton of kids. Well I did get married and I had two kids.
Then my daughter died.
Recently I was asked, “Are you still a mother if your child is dead?”
It stopped me in my tracks. I don’t mean to sound crass or to make any other grieving mother out there who has lost a child feel any offense. Truly I don’t.
My answer was quick and quite simple. “Darn straight I do. I am and will always be Courtney’s mother whether she is physically with me or not.”
Motherhood was my dream and it came true. Taking care of a severely handicapped and medically fragile child for twenty-two years was not a part of my dream. Not for one second.
But…God had a different idea for me and for Courtney. He also had a different idea for the Blessed Mother and her Son as well. We both watched our children be ridiculed, made fun of and be ignored and set aside. We watched them endure physical suffering that was so incredibly difficult to watch as a mother and not be able to stop any of it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not The Blessed Mother. Not even close. Holding on to hope is what saved me from madness. I make the comparison above simply because I identify myself with her and her suffering.
The Pieta has always held great significance to me. Our Lady is holding her son in her arms. His spirit has left him and she is holding his physical body for one last time.
I have experienced this very thing. I have held my daughter as she died, knowing that I would never hold her in my arms again this side of heaven. I know the breaking of a mothers heart. I know what that ripping and tearing feels like. One day you are one person and the next someone entirely different.
It has been almost 17 months since my daughter died and I am amazed at how the Lord has continued building her legacy. Just last week I spent three hours in a hospital with a young family I had never met in person. The mom is one of you, a blog reader, and I reached out and asked what I could do to help as they face a serious medical crisis with one of her children.
I sat and talked and hugged and encouraged as best I could. We laughed and were able to be honest and talk about hard things, heavy things, things no Mama wants to have to contemplate, ever. We talked about Courtney and how Jerry, Jonathan and I loved her with all we had. No regrets. None. It’s a miracle to be able to say that.
This visit would never have taken place if it weren’t for my Courtney. She continues to teach me how to love and how to grieve with joy. Crazy right? The idea of grieving with joy but I am here to say, not only is is possible, it’s how we Lenaburg’s roll these days.
Pray with me won’t you…
Dear Mother Mary,
Thank you for showing me how to be a mother. Thank you for being there through the tears, the heartache, the sleepless nights and the utter exhaustion and worry of not knowing what to do next. Thank you for wrapping your mantles of grace and mercy around my broken heart, restoring my joy in the midst of grief. Thank you for showing me how to stretch myself to reach out and love others no matter who they are, no matter where they are, just to love them in that moment, shining the light of love from God the Father upon them.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,