Mother’s Day 2005
Last night before Norm & I were going to bed, he shared with me too, how we have to make sure the children know that they are just important as Matthew, and that though my heart hurts, how important they each are. I will end with this note I wrote to them and put it on the kitchen counter for them to read in the morning. I think it helped to know they could be more light hearted, and not have to fear my being a basket case. And, thank you for the many nice notes of encouragement and prayers for us. God’s peace was certainly with us in a extra special way today.
Good Morning Kids!
I just want to let you all know I love you very much, and I am a very blessed mom to have each of you. Though I am sad that Matthew is not here and you may see tears today, know that is just a little part of my heart, and that all of you fill the rest of my heart. I need each of you and love you all so much.We will have a good day. We may stay home, and just enjoy being with each other – watch movies, eat ice cream, make jewelry together, whatever. If any of you want to go to church in the morning, yes, you may, but do talk to dad and I before you go. I just don’t want to embarrass any of you by crying or falling apart at church. I hope you understand.
Remember, I’ve told you when I was a little girl, I always wanted a big family, and I am very, very happy and blessed to have you.
I LOVE YOU Stephen, Jayson, Heather, Heidi, Benjamin, Jessica, Melody, Katie & Bethany.
Remember Moms with Empty Arms on Mother’s Day
And four months ago, we lost our 16½ year old son, Matthew, in an unexpected accident. He played a game many teens are playing, a breath game. He lost the game. He loved Jesus and was committed to Him, loved life, adored his little sisters, had goals of going into business management and learning to fly. Now we walk through this new year of many firsts, with the sting of death close to our hearts, yet taking in joys of life as we watch our children in a new way and so thankful for all God has given us.
How do we cope? One day, one tear, one memory and one day at a time – holding on to God, my husband, my children and family and friends who remember with us. Though I believe speaking of death, miscarriages and stillbirths is much easier to talk about more openly today than it was 20 some years ago, it is still a silent subject. There are still a majority who do not want to talk about a loss for fear of hurting the people who experienced it. The silence hurts more. We notice the void everywhere, from the empty spot in the church pew, to answering someone how many children we have, to the two pictures on the wall that will never age.
With Mother’s Day approaching, remember the moms who have broken hearts and empty arms who ache for the child they should be holding or getting a hug from. Remember the moms who don’t have any living children. They ARE mothers. Remember them on such days as Mother’s Day, due dates, and death dates. Even if you do not know what to say, a “Thinking of You” card or “I am Praying for You” card will touch a mom so much. If a family has recently lost a baby or child, and a special date is coming up, a small bush, tree or rose bush, can be given to plant in memory, and a reminder every year of your remembering and a precious living reminder of the child.
Churches many times for families who have lost a child, can be the hardest place to go, especially on Mother’s Day. Not only do they see the reminders of their child’s friends, the empty space, nursery, pregnant moms, and infants in arms, their missing baby or child may seem unremembered. Often on Mother’s Day, “all” mothers are asked to stand up, and presented with a flower or special gift, but the moms with empty arms seem to be forgotten. If at all possible, include these moms. Possibly ask these moms privately if they can be recognized, or at least allow the opportunity for their baby to be remembered. Some moms may not want to be recognized, but a Pastor recognizing in a general way, moms with children waiting in heaven, will show love, remembrance and value of life.
And, remember other mothers like me who on this Mother’s Day notice “the gap”… the missing homemade card or one less hug. Yes, we may have other little ones tugging on our sleeves, but “we” remember, and have that ache for the child that cannot be replaced. The first Mother’s Day after a loss is particularly hard and is not a “happy” Mother’s Day. This Mother’s Day, remember a mom who is hurting and who wants to remember a baby or child that Jesus holds, not her.
©Loni Vander Stel 2005
Loni lives in Greenville has been married to her husband, Norm for 20 years. They homeschoo1 their 9 children all yet at home. Loni has an outreach ministry for bereaved moms at http://bereavedmomsshare.com and a memorial page for their son at: http://matthewsstory.com
Later Norm’s mom handed me a little package, and told me she got me something special because she knew it would be a hard Mother’s day for me. Actually, I’ve been dreading it, though I know how blessed I am, there’s such a pain. Yet, I see these nine other healthy, living chidren, and wow . . . I am indeed blessed. Anyway, I opened the package and got some special chocolates, and then a pretty box with a flower on top. Inside was a beautiful ceramic type heart that opened up and inside that Norm’s mom had drawn a small picture of Matthew. It touched my heart so much. She then showed me how the picture could come out, and on the back was a picture of him as a little boy. Of course, the tears came, and she worried some that she upset me, but Norm kept telling her, “it was the perfect gift” and it was. Norm’s mom draws beautiful pictures and portraits. I asked her if she had drawn a big one and sized it down, and she said she had, and I told her sometime I’d love to have one. In a few minutes she gave me the big picture. She said she hesitated, because she wanted to make sure I was ready. It’s a beautiful portrait, and she gave me permission to share it on our webpage. She also made bookmarks for each of us, with Matthew’s 16 year picture and baby pictures. I just cannot say enough how much this meant, and that even as a hurting grandma, took the time to draw this and give it as a gift. Though this sting of death is so new, these are bittersweet treasures that will be held dear until we can see Jesus and our family is whole again in heaven.