Mother's Day 2019
I have been dreading this day since January 1. There will be many firsts, some I’m well aware of and some that will sneak up on me. Mother’s Day is the most personal. This is the day my kids write really nice words to me in a card just because I’m their mom. Their words mean more to me than anything. Being their mom means more to me than anything. So here’s how my first Mother’s Day without Chandler went down.
First, I began to receive texts that let me know so many prayers and big virtual hugs were coming my way. Throughout the day, these words of encouragement and scripture verses were the wind in my sail to keep me moving through the turbulent waters.
My first conversation today, the first live “Happy Mother’s Day” I heard, was from Australia, one of Chandler’s best friends, a young man I love dearly. With each Mother’s Day text from Chandler’s friends, my tribe, I knew Chandler was telling everyone around, “See, I told you my friends are the best.”
After I got off the phone, I sat down at the table and cried. I got up and wandered around the kitchen crying, lost, unsure what to do with myself. The phone rang. I saw that it was my sweet friend Christine who has been through several Mother’s Days without her daughter. I managed some semblance of “hello” through the sobs. She cried with me. She didn’t offer any solutions or spiritual platitudes. She just hurt with me. And she prayed for me. That conversation created emotional space for me. Since I was able to release some of my anguish to a trusted friend in the same damn club, I felt like I had more capacity to enjoy the gift of being with my kids later when we would get together.
When I got to Sweat Star for hot yoga this morning, I was greeted with a hug by one of the owners – such a compassionate soul. I cried as she hugged me. She said, “I know. I can’t imagine. Just for this hour, put it all aside and just be on your mat.” I always choose a word or phrase, or more likely it chooses me, each time I come to my mat. I’ve chosen joy, surrender, in Christ, let go and let God, strength, and peace. The only word I could manage today was breathe. With each pose, the only way to get through the next few seconds was to breathe. I knew that was how I would get through the rest of the day. Breathe. One breath at a time. Deeply. Appreciating the gift of that moment and the next and the next.
On the way home, I decided to stop at the bike memorial. Of course, more tears. I just sat there, again feeling lost. Just lost. A lady walked by, stopped, and said a prayer. Through my tears, I said, “That’s my son.” She knelt down and put her arm around me. She told me that she walks by the bike frequently on her way to church and says a prayer for us every time. Apparently, she was walking to church the night of Chandler’s accident and passed by that intersection just after he was taken away in the ambulance. I told her thank you so much for every prayer. When she walked away, I prayed, “Thank you, Jesus. You see me.”
I went home and showered. I had told Christine earlier that I had thought about reading old Mother’s Day cards from Chandler, but I just wasn’t sure if I could do it today. Maybe it would just be too much. Well, I got this wild idea that I would read through them and find Chandler’s signature so I could take it and get his name tattooed on my wrist. I sat on my closet floor and cried as I read some of Chandler’s words to me through the years. One of the signature lines was, “Love, your Chandler Man.” That’s the one. I want that tattooed on my wrist. Chance was the voice of reason and said, “Mom, maybe we should do some research and go to a reputable tattoo place instead of just what’s open on Mother’s Day.” So, that adventure will have to wait for another day. But it will come.
The best part of my day came when all my kids…almost all my kids…climbed into the car and we headed to the beach. These are my favorite people. Chase, Chance, Charli, and (because God smiled on us big time) Karen. They make me laugh. They challenge my thinking. They show up for me. They are good human beings. And I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with them. To say I am grateful and humbled to have them in my life is a gross understatement, but I don’t know how to find words adequate to say what these people mean to me.
We drove to Laguna Beach. When Chandler was little, he used to call it “li’l guna.” There was traffic, but it didn’t even matter. Having time with them in the car to talk and laugh was medicine for my soul…as always. We tried a new pizza place and then took a long walk on the beach. Then we stood in a LONG line for gelato that was worth every gram of sugar and fat. Chance got me some dark chocolate lavender truffles at a chocolate shop while we were waiting in line. Somehow every heavenly flavor found its way into those tiny truffles.
What did it feel like to be all together today but not really all together? There were moments when I almost forgot. I mean, there were plenty of times when all the kids couldn’t be together at the same time on a holiday for whatever reason. One year, Chandler was in India on Mother’s Day. There were other moments, like when we took our picture on the beach, that I thought, “This isn’t right. There should be four of them.” Even though I didn’t get my Chandler Mother’s Day hug, I imagine he made sure my mom got a big, warm Chandler hug—“from your daughter.”
If I had to name three words that capture the essence of this first Mother’s Day with the gaping hole, they would be pain, joy, and gratitude.
Pain. I miss my boy so much. It feels like too much to carry sometimes. The pain is unfathomable and yet tangible. The ache. The finality. The missing. It is so deep and dark. It leaves me wandering around lost. It takes my breath away.
Joy. Being with my kids today brought me pure joy. Plain and simple.
Gratitude. Mother’s Day is over, and I didn’t disappear into an endless abyss of grief, never to return. I didn’t do it in a vacuum. I couldn’t have. This entire weekend, I have been blessed with texts and calls and flowers and a “C” necklace to help me feel close to Chandler. Every tear I’ve shed holds the reflection of these expressions of love and support.
Thank you, God, for being so good to me today. You brought exactly what I needed to get me through this day I have dreaded. You are with me. You see me.
I made it!!!