Last month was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. She died on Christ the King Sunday – November 25 – last year. I believe, based on my own experience and that of many others, that no matter the depth of the relationship, when a mother dies, it leaves a void in the world that will never be filled in the same way again. Even people whose mother was abusive, unsupportive, or absent can have an unpredictably strong reaction when she dies. Perhaps some grief reflects the loss of a dream that someday they may have the mother they always wanted to have. Yet even beyond that, there seems to be a persistent thread of connection between a mother and her children.
In my case, I had a deep relationship with Mom. We looked a lot alike, thought alike, prayed alike, and at times considered ourselves soulmates. There were rough spots, for sure, but I always knew I could rely on Mom. We traveled a difficult journey through her illness with Alzheimer’s, the several falls and broken bones that sapped her strength, and her final two weeks in hospice, but it was grounded by the years of love upon which our relationship was built.
I miss Mom a lot. And with Dad having died, too (to use the words of Kelli Auerbach), I’d never understood how much my identity was entwined with being someone’s child. That tether is gone, as eventually are every one of our earthly tethers.
I think of what Jesus must have felt as he looked down from the cross and saw his bereft mother. Although he gave her to another’s care, and she to his, they both had to let go of the unique and visceral physical bond between them, and their hearts were breaking.
As wrenchingly difficult as these losses can be, the very severing reminds me of an enduring reality – there is one tether than I can never lose. My deepest identity, my strength, and the core of my being are inextricably entwined with being Someone’s child. God is my faithful, wise, patient, and everlasting source. I can only truly rest secure and at peace within that embrace.
And in fact, it is within that very embrace that I remain tethered to those I loved on earth. We all come from God, we all go to God, and we are united with God and each other in ways we barely begin to understand. I am confident that as I place myself in God’s presence in prayer, Mom is there too, along with all those who have gone before me. It’s not the same, and there are still things I must let go of. But if I allow myself to be open to it, it is real, sometimes visceral, true, and eternal. I am indeed someone’s child.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.