My (own) first Mothers Day was almost entirely devoid of happiness or joy. There would be no celebratory brunch with the other mothers in my extended family. No cooing at B.W.'s seven month old fleshiness, no virtual badge of honor awarded for my sleepless nights, no retelling of his birth story, no demonstration of his new tricks. Only empty arms that ached to hold him and some flowers from my husband. While more than a few family members and friends acknowledged my motherhood and remembered B.W. that year, by calling or sending a card, I was also keenly aware that I should keep my new-mother-grief close to the vest and try not bring anyone else down on their special day. To say I felt robbed that first Mother's Day - of my son, primarily, but also of affirmation that I was a worthy mother, albeit bereaved - is an incredible understatement.
C.T. had been born, alive, into our family, by the time the following Mothers Day arrived. Suddenly, I was much more a part of the club, included in the celebration of all things motherhood. People anxiously wished me a Happy Mothers Day. They pulled me in, rather than keeping me at arms length. I did my best to accept the congratulatory tone I heard in their voices, but silently resented that the other side of my motherhood, the side that wept for my dead son, wasn't acknowledged and honored. Some forgot that it wasn't my inaugural - asking How was your first Mothers Day?, which had the effect of squashing out their attempted well wishes altogether. Many bravely reached out to show they knew it wasn't simply a day of celebration, that they remembered the one who was absent.
Every Mothers Day since then, before 2014, most of our family and friends have continued to understand that it's a bittersweet day. That as I bask in the light and beauty of my living son, there is still one, equally beloved, who is dead and gone and forever missed.
And then Zachary came into our lives this year, and died two weeks later.
Doubling the dead children in our family.
Making Mothers Day more bitter and unbearable than I could have ever imagined.
The day literally noted, by me, as Day of Dread on our family calendar.
Can I say I have been blown away by the many, many family and friends who have reached out to me leading up to and on this first Mothers Day after Zachary's death? Although the grief wore heavy on me throughout today, in a more punctuated way than every other miserable day, I also felt that Zachary (and hence B.W.) was loved and remembered through the calls, texts, cards, emails, flowers and gifts of many. I can't express how much it meant, how it affected my attempted numbness and ever so slightly eased my burden today. I think I survived the day because I was enveloped in love, in memory of Zachary.
This may be the first time I've posted something remotely like thankfulness, other than for the lives and gift of my three children.