As Mother’s Day approached this year, I felt a tremendous sense of dismay and loss.
My wife, the mother of my four young children, died forty-nine days ago after battling cancer for two-and-a-half years. I have been invited in a club for whom this day causes more pain than happiness. It was not the day itself, the genuine 24 hours, but also the upcoming days after this day.
The celebration of our “firsts” without Kara is hard, but I should not ignore it just because it is hard. Mother’s Day is hard for so many people, but I don’t claim to recognize all who suffer pain.
We celebrate this Mother’s Day as a family of five and not six. It’s as if we’re in a play and the lead actor goes missing but the play must go on, as if the story will still make sense despite their absence. We approach this day missing the one we want to serve and love. And it is painful.
A lot of kids make a Mother’s Day present at school and bring it home proudly. For years, I have been the one who helped hide the already cracked clay picture frame or the painted earthenware dish that proudly says “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you, Mom.” But, this year, it’s not the same.
My preparation for this day began by letting my kids make a choice on whether they make a craft or not, give a present to me or to others who loves them, or skip school for that day. My kids have different choices but they all made an active choice.
We will stick to our normal Mother’s Day traditions. We will go to church and have breakfast together. We will choose not to be hurt when we see complete families sitting in joy or when the pastor takes time to appreciate the mothers in the room.
We will live in the reality of life instead of having hidden expectations on how we want to be treated. I want my kids to enter into celebration today, to recall the life she lived and the traits she desired to foster in them: kindness, compassion and love. Our character develops when we are stretched, and this day will stretch us.
As this day approaches, we will celebrate the wonderful mom my kids had. We will share stories about her, do the things that she loves together, turn up the music and make dinner together, plant flowers, and laugh and read books before bed. Most of these activities will be done with tears streaming down my cheeks. But, to stop celebrating this day, even though it is easier, would be like running away from the love that molded our family.