Posts Tagged ‘funeral’

Empty Arms

Dear Mother Hen,

Until last summer our life was almost perfect. I wish that I had realized how great it really was back then. We had a beautiful eight-year-old daughter with her father’s curly red hair, and a lively four-year-old boy who wore pants out at the knees as fast as we could buy them.

In June, Emily started to complain of headaches. We gave her some children’s  Tylenol, put cold cloths on her forehead, and thought nothing much of it at first. When she began to wake up screaming in the night, I booked an appointment with our pediatrician.

This turned out to be the first of many visits to doctors’ offices. When all the tests were run and the MRI came back, they told us that Em had a brain tumor. By this time she was throwing up every day, and in such misery it broke my heart. We agreed to surgery. I was so terrified that day that I was throwing up too, running to the bathroom then running back in case I missed any news.

It was cancer. Emily  had both radiation and chemotherapy, and she was so brave. She turned out to be stronger than me. The first day she woke up with some of her gorgeous red hair sticking to her pillow,  I broke down and cried my heart out.

My sweet little girl told me, “It’s okay, Mom. Really, I don’t mind,” and I bawled even harder.

We lost her at the end of August. Emily was buried in a white sateen dress that she was supposed to wear to my sister’s wedding just a couple of  weeks earlier. Her curls were just beginning to grow back,  and they surrounded her head like a halo.  When they closed her casket, I thought my legs were going to give out.

I try to be strong for my son, but I walk around like a zombie most of the time. I know that he needs me, but my heart just isn’t in it any more.

Her birthday was in April, but she is never going to turn nine. I was a mess all that day. My husband tries to be supportive, but he deals with it by throwing himself into his job more than ever.

 I am already dreading the day in August that will be a year since she left us. How am I ever going to get through this? I miss my baby girl so much!

 Dear Mom with Empty Arms,

I am so sorry for all that you have been through with Emily’s illness and death.  There is no pain like that of watching your child suffer, and then having to go on without her. I understand, because I am also a mother with empty arms. My son had cystic fibrosis, and we said good-bye to  him six years ago.

 Losing a child is like having a limb amputated. You will never be the same, ever, but as you go along you get better at coping. We just have to try to live our lives in honor of our wonderful children who are no longer with us.

 Somehow, we survive from one day to the next, until we get “used” to the pain, that dull ache that is always there. Eventually, you catch yourself smiling at a precious memory, or you realize that you haven’t cried for a day or two. We go on, for those we love who still need us, and because that is what you do. You find a new “normal.”  

Give your son what you can, and enlist others to help take care of him. You are emotionally exhausted, so being kind to yourself! When you are attentive to your own needs, and take care of your son’s mother , you are also taking care of him.

 There is no doubt that certain dates, like your daughter’s birthday or  the anniversary of her death, will be particularly hard. Some of us look through photo albums and cry. Some go away for the day and plan something special.  You may wish to visit your daughter’s grave with flowers, or even have a spa day if it makes you feel better. There is no single  correct way to grieve. Whatever makes the day more meaningful or bearable for you is what is right.

You ask, “How am I ever going to get through this?” You do it one minute at a time, then one hour at a time, then a day, then two, until finally you realize that life is going on for you, and it’s okay.

Our love for our children will never die. We are not going to forget. We are not going to get over it. We will, however, because of love, go on anyway. Life still needs us here, so we will find a way.

In memory of Emily,  Darren and all of our dear children, let’s live fully every day. They have taught us what a precious thing life really can be.

Mother Hen

Wedding Bell Blues

blue bride and groom

Dear

Mother Hen,

Three years ago I went through a horrible divorce when my husband of almost twenty-five years left me for another woman.  I was devastated beyond words! I had no idea at the time that he was cheating on me with this woman from work, though of course looking back I suppose there were signs. I was still very much in love with him, and our three children went through so much, just because this tramp wouldn’t keep her hands off of a married man!

Our oldest son will be married in two months time, and I don’t know how I am going to get through the day. My ex is now married to his mistress, and I am still alone. I have to admit I still have feelings for him, plus of course I am furious with her. My daughter-in-law-to-be thinks that we should act like one big happy family, so she will expect me to be in photos with the two of them. At one point she even said something about how she will have two mothers-in-law! My son won’t say anything to her in my defense, because he doesn’t want to upset her, although apparently whether I’m upset doesn’t matter.

How am I going to survive this impossible situation?

Woman Left Behind

Dear Woman Left Behind,

I understand that this is difficult for you, since you are still recovering from your marriage breakdown, and facing your former husband and his new wife would be painful under any circumstances.

I don’t want to play the who-is-more-miserable game, honestly, but I want you to think about my story to see if it gives you a little bit of perspective

When my son became engaged to a lovely girl, I was so pleased for them, but I dreaded the thought of  seeing my ex, his fiance, and my former in-laws at the wedding.  Even though I had remarried happily,  I have continued to feel very uncomfortable in my ex’s presence, and I had not yet met his intended.

Several months before their wedding date, my son became dreadfully ill. Although he had cystic fibrosis, he had been in very good health until that point, and we had every reason to expect that he would be with us for many years to come.  After only a few months in hospital, it became clear that antibiotics couldn’t deal with the infection that took over his body, and  we had to say good-bye.

At the funeral, I saw all my former relatives, under the worst possible circumstances. I remember thinking, here I had been dreading a wedding, and we were burying my 21-year-old instead. As you can imagine, I would have done anything to have had that wedding to go to, rather than face all those people at a funeral home.

I do not want to trivialize what you are going through. I had remarried a wonderful man, and I did not give a rat’s tushie that my ex was with someone else, so that was not an issue for me. I just want to remind you that you are celebrating the future and a new life for your child, so even though you are hurting, it is a happy time, nonetheless. Try to hold your head high, and remember, you are the mother, you have raised your child to be a wonderful adult, and you outrank your ex and his new woman in every way that counts, because you have been a class act all along!

Best wishes to the happy couple, and to you, on their wedding day!

Mother Hen