Celebrating Mother’s Day with a child and grandchildren that live in heaven is a tough day. This is the day that brings to the forefront all that we grieve……our children and their absence. Today was the second Mother’s Day without Elizabeth.
My Mother’s Day now always starts out at the cemetery. To go to the place that is a testament to her life….I go to honor…..and I go to remember. I spend time with my private thoughts and memories of my blue eyed baby girl that I treasure and never ever want to forget.
I have found those of us that have children in heaven, many times create rituals to recognize these days. For me, one of my rituals is around tea. One of my special memories is that Elizabeth and I went to a “tea” for Mother’s Day. The tea was complete with fancy china, cucumber sandwiches, petit fours and lots of tea to sample all in a beautiful old home in downtown Austin. We have always made an annual pilgrimage to the Tea Embassy for tea. In 2012, we had a Living Social Coupon to use before it expired on July 11, 2012. Who would have known 19 days later she would be in heaven. So, that day is very special to me. That day would just be us two….no children or husbands. So, we made the trek to 6th and Rio Grande and tasted many teas. Since Lizz was pregnant, she was very interested in the herbal teas. I can close my eyes and remember what she wore that day. After tea, we wanted lunch and she requested to go to Top Notch….one of our favorite places. We had cheeseburgers and onion rings. After lunch, she wasn’t quite ready to go home and resume her role as mommy to two little boys, so we went to TJ Maxx. I always loved going there with Elizabeth. Especially when she went to the part of the store that had skincare. She would always tell me if there was any good deals! Her Sephora experience kicking in gear!
And as the day came to a close, the phone calls began wanting to know when she was coming home…..and so our day came to an end. Who would have known…..if I had, I wouldn’t have let her go.
So, drinking tea….making tea…..takes me back……and the tears flow…..so, I save this ritual for a day like Mother’s Day to remember the last time we were together. It is also why her Mother’s Day wreaths always have teacups.
So I started my day and spent the morning with her. I made the tea when I arrived….yes, I boiled water and took it with me, took the tea, the infuser, my Mother’s Day mug, and a bag of Raisinets! Why Raisinets? It was part of my Mother’s Day present. She had filled my mug with them. The mug she got at TJ Maxx. She remembered that I collect polish pottery and had found this mug. And the last words she would write would be on my Mother’s Day card I now cling to and read when I need encouragement as a mom.
I made some of the tea that she bought that day and never opened. It was Lavender Lemon Tea.
So, as I made a mug of Lavender Lemon tea…..and ate some Raisinets…..I listened to the birds sing, felt the wind on my face, watched the butterflies and dragonflies and remembered……I looked up at the big blue Texas sky with the fluffy clouds and wondered if she was able to see me today…..and was so hoping she could…..and that she too was sitting on a bench drinking a cup of tea. God gathered more tears for my tear bottle today…..I placed her wreath and when I left I placed some lavender tea in her tea cup.
I then joined my other two daughters and granddaughter at Old Settlers Park for a picnic under the Oak Tree that we dedicated in October of 2013. It is a way I knew to include the memory of Elizabeth with us…..to gather around a tree planted in her honor. Here we are almost two years later….standing as strong as Elizabeth’s oak tree……and we are joyfully anticipating the addition of another baby! Lauren is expecting in November. The women in this picture are strong oaks……we have withstood the worst pain that a family can experience. We have survived. We have faced the pain of life….and it hasn’t been easy…..but I love this picture. Here we are standing arms together, smiling, and redefining our lives into a “new normal”. With faith and the grace of God, we are enjoying a warm and very windy Texas day and being together. We all miss Elizabeth and the boys like crazy. And sometimes days like today are bittersweet. I am so thankful and joyful for what I have and then there is still the grief of my loss. It is a dichotomy for sure. But this I do know……we will continue to put one foot in front of the other and lean on each other and to use a quote from Christa Black:
“This time, and with this level of pain, I want to feel every moment of the agony, to experience every second of the grief. In her honor. In her memory. Because she‘s worth it.”
Yes, Elizabeth is. Our culture does not understand this. No one does until you are forced to walk this road. Our hearts are divided. Grief for our child that isn’t here and yet blessed to have children and grandchildren that walk with us in this life.
And so here we are……looking forward to the next Mother’s Day as we continue to redefine and transform our lives. I am looking forward to holding in my arms another grandchild and listen to their precious cry……watching Ava grow up into an amazing young girl and continue watching my daughters grow into awesome women. Even with the events of July 30, 2012, I can say I am blessed, so very blessed…….and at the end of the day, I will raise my hands and praise the one that gave me my blue eyed baby girl for the 25 years I was so honored and blessed to have her call me “mom”.
My advice as cliche as it may sound………is to soak every moment in with your children…….take every opportunity to tell your children that you love them……you never know when it will be your last. I wish I could tell Elizabeth a thousand more times how much I love her and how much she means to me. Never leave your children no matter the age in doubt of your love.
And to those moms who also grieve the loss of their children……may God show us the way with his grace and love…..may our grief be used for something even greater and bigger than before our hearts broke from the loss of our children.
His grace is sufficient,