Every-other Friday while my daughter was in preschool I had coffee dates with a friend whose five-year-old son had gone to heaven just two weeks after Mother’s Day that year. Over coffee and hot chocolate, my friend would share stories with me about her boy and the bond that only a mother knows. She would light up as she spoke his name, telling me the details of their life together. She spoke of her empty arms and how she longed for that space to be filled with his weight. I could feel her longing in every word she spoke, and I could vividly see how sharing him with me and others was how she held him close, even through their distance.
During our time together I struggled often finding words to comfort, I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or pretend to understand what her heart was feeling. I’m sure my words didn’t come out perfect, but celebrating motherhood with my friend meant a lot to both of us.
I had so much to learn.
I would sit in my car after those Friday coffee dates to gather my thoughts. I wiped the tears from my eyes and prayed for my friend’s heart, begging God to comfort her and bring her peace through her suffering. I couldn’t fathom her sorrow and pain or the longing she felt for her son. I didn’t understand how peace was even possible in her circumstances. I couldn’t even imagine the thought of my life without my children. They were my world, and tucking them into bed each night was one of my greatest joys.
When it was time to start the car and head towards my daughter’s school, my life continued. Arriving, I would see my little girl following behind her teacher with a smile on her face. She would run over to me with arms open wide. I would grab her, feel her weight in my arms, and hug extra tight for my friend who was longing to do the same with her son.
She would run off towards the playground and I would gather with the other parents, my heart feeling blessed because I got to watch my girl play with her friends that day. As I watched her I tried to memorize her every move. She was growing up so fast and I didn’t want to ever forget the details.
Eventually I heard her yell, “Mama, will you push me on the swing?” Blessed to be my daughter’s mama and professional swing-pusher, I took my place behind her, reached down, and grabbed hold of the seat with my lips almost touching her ear. “I love you,” I whispered and then pulled back as far as I could to hear her squeal in excitement. “I love you too, mama!” she yelled. I would think about how much my friend’s son loved his mama, even now from heaven. She was his rock, and any amount of distance would not change that.
On those Fridays, and all the days in-between, my friend taught me how to continue mothering even when I couldn’t feel the weight of my child in my arms anymore. I had no idea that my future held the loss of my own child, but my friend and her son taught me to cherish every single moment of life. They taught me that motherhood doesn’t stop when you no longer can hold your child in your arms.
Together, my girls and my friend’s son will send their mamas love this Mother’s Day from heaven, as they do every year. We, feeling grateful and blessed to be their mamas, will receive that love with open arms, feeling the weight of eternity in our hearts and souls.