Sunday, May 8, 2016

When a holiday hurts

My mom is the first contact in my phone.

Some years back, I found myself calling her so much, that I grew impatient in scrolling through the M's in my contact list to find her. By accident, I typed in a period before her "name," and thus she became ".Mom".

I thought this funny, and I continue to privately refer to her as "dot mom."

In becoming dot mom, she also got bumped to the top of my contacts list. Given the convenience of dialing placement and the new nickname, I kept the typo as is.

God, my mom is amazing. She hasn't always had the easiest life, but she hasn't let that turn her into a mean person. She loves me and my brothers to pieces. She calls me Peach. She prays with me when I cry, sends me care packages multiple times a year, filled with tissues for my drippy nose, earrings, newspaper clippings and mail that is still being sent to her address.

I saw her twice this week, even though she lives 1,500 miles away.

Alex snapped a picture of me with the Tegan and Sara marquee at the concert we attended, and when he showed me the image I said instantly, "I look like my mom."

Two days later, getting ready for a Cinco de Mayo date with Alex, I looked in the mirror and there she was again.

I love this.


I am having a pretty good day so far. There is a little bit of swirling in my brain, and I won't lie, I was up in the middle of the night worrying about my sadness levels and those of others in my life.

But this morning I got up, passed on the opportunity to snuggle with Max, and I went to church. I was uplifted by my community there, and given peace.

Now I find myself at Panera, my second home, with soup and a keyboard and a hike scheduled later with my honey bee.

My day is going OK, and even though I can't be with my mom on this or most Mother's Days, I am so lucky to have such a great mamacita.

Others find themselves in sadness on this holiday, though. Some, in grief.

My best friend lost her mother years ago, and has no one to call today.

Another friend lost her mother this past year.

The family of a friend of mine lost an infant this week. Of all weeks.

The sadness is unspeakable, for those who have lost a mother, or a child.

But I was given hope this morning, when people around me held up in prayer this family who is experiencing such terrible loss.

Alone at 3 in the morning, the weight of the world is too much. Life becomes stagnant in those moments, either stuck in the past or frozen in fear. In a sanctuary with 200 other bowed heads, I can feel a future.

A mother of one, expecting her second, sat in front of me this morning. During our time to share the peace, our eyes met, each pair wet with tears. We hurt for the family we had just prayed for, and talked about how we can just pray, pray, pray for them. Her belly protruded between us. I told her I hope someone spoils her today, and discovered her due date is two days after my birthday. "Maybe I'll have a birthday twin," I said.

We ached for another of our sisters in Christ, and we did our best to look forward in hope.


My church honored all women today, not just mothers, and I thought that was beautiful and great.

I was handed a rose before service, given several hugs from the womanhood around me.

I asked each woman if she was a mother, and they said kind things to me like: You are a mother figure to someone. If you have cared for any child, you are a mother.

The Bethel congregation also handed out mugs today, that said:

"You are loved." -- God

"Bailey!" my pastor exclaimed. "You're a woman, you get a mug!"

He informed me the mugs were clean, so I filled it up with coffee, as I attend a Lutheran church and Lutherans leave no coffee behind.

I told Rustin I didn't think him the type to hand out dirty mugs to his congregants.

During the service, I looked down and noticed the lettering on my mug was smudging.

In some moments, this may have sent me into despair. Not because mugs are so important to me. I think of them like bunnies; they seem to breed in my cabinet and I always have more than enough. I struggle to unload the dishwasher, packing ceramic cups on the shelf without breaking them. My mugs runneth over.

But in a vulnerable moment, I could have read those smudged words in and on my hands as a bad sign, an illustration that life is so hard and sad, nothing is perfect and pretty and easy like perfectly etched letters on a mug would be.

Today, though, I thought that life is so hard and sad, but that there is also hope and peace. There is healing, even for those most bereft among us. This weekend I have been praying, praying for that healing.


I sometimes wonder if the world is in a perfect balance, amidst its brokenness.

Abby and I are big fans of the movie Frozen, and she joked once that the two of us are like Anna and Elsa. We seem to switch off in our moods -- while one of us is the grumpy ice queen, the other is singing buoyantly, "Do you want to build a snowman?"

I'm sure we each find this to be privately annoying at times. Abby is a ball of energy after she works out, and I find myself jealous of her endorphins. But I sometimes count our phenomenon to be awesome. I rarely find myself in a sad place in my apartment without someone who is there to push me toward hope and happiness. Toward light.

I find it amazing that 12 hours ago, I was lying in bed full of worry, and that today in church I was able to grieve for someone but also have hope and strength within me, for her, for me, for all of us. I really think sometimes that God keeps a certain number of us strong in moments when others need proof that strength still exists within themselves. And when those strong people become weak again, there are others to care for them, to grab their hand from the hole in the ground and lift them back to light.


I think most of us have at least one holiday during which we struggle to be joyful. For example, I enjoy it now, but Christmas was difficult for me for many years.

Mother's Day isn't a struggle for me, but on days like today, I have the urge to walk into the world, wave my hands and say, "Holiday's cancelled!"

I can't stand to know that people are grieving on this day meant to celebrate. A day that celebrates that which they no longer have. I want to ask that all the happy people keep their happy to themselves, so as not to disturb those in pain.

Cut the cake in silence, please.

Today, I am grateful that I am, to a degree, feeling strong. Today is one of the days that I am able to give. I may only be able to give prayer, but I am well enough to do so.

I am glad that when I saw the ink smudge on my mug, I didn't lose all hope, because I know of people who desperately need it.

Instead, I thought, Hmm. The love is rubbing off, seeping into my skin.

God's love isn't meant to reside in a mug. (Though sometimes I believe it can take this form, not in the coffee inside the mug, but in the loving hands of a person who pours the beverage and then sits with another person for as long as she needs to be sat with.)

God's love is meant to be spread. To keep us buoyant, to make each other strong again. His love gives us power to grieve alongside each other, so we don't have to grieve alone.

To all the mothers out there, happy day to you. We children appreciate all that you've done for us, and I hope that you get super spoiled with dinner, a bubble bath, oodles of gifts.

And for those struggling today, I hope that you are wrapped in the widest range of God's peace and love available. Which is immeasurable. I hope that one of God's children wraps you in a hug, and holds you. I hope that, today, you are mothered.

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