A picture of love
I got the sweetest Mother’s Day picture from my son in his backpack. The teachers in the autism program are semi-professional in their ability to get a great pic. And for kids with autism, smiles and eye contact don’t come easy. Throw in him holding a flower and it’s near perfection. Ahhhh. And of course, it got a gajillion likes on Facebook well, because it was just that cute.
But you know, the only thing that I could think of was my mom. Not only would she love it, because she adores the kids in every way, but Hayden looked so much like my brother in this photo. His smile, his hair, his arm, his hand .. that hand!!!! Oh, how I remember it. It’s almost like looking at a photo of my brother at the age of nine. Not necesscarily identical, but there’s just something – similarities you’d see if you knew my brother well. I couldn’t wait for her to see it and I knew that she’d see it too. All the little details of his form, but more than anything just his happiness. Always shining, always so alive.
When we got on the phone later, the first thing she said about thee picture was “He looks so much like Tim!”.
Me: “I know!!! Did you see his hand? It looks just like Tim’s.”
Mom: “And it’s in his hair and in his eyes. That’s what I really noticed. Something in his eyes. It makes me wonder how he’ll look as he grows. Tim was thirteen when he died, so it really makes me wonder how Hayden will grow and look when he’s older.”
Me: “I know, me too. They have such a similar body frame. He’s petite like me and Tim…”
Our conversation went on for a while across the 3,000 + miles of distance that’s been between us for too long. You’d think it would’ve been a somber conversation somehow at the mention of my brother, but it was full of joy and life.
Much like my mom herself. She’s a woman who loves deeply, despite how deeply she has lost. I don’t think anyone ever truly moves on from the death of a child, and I know that my mom and dad never will. Tim will always be with us, the memories of his exuberant smile and infectious laugh imbedded in our hearts. Yet through the devastation of losing Tim, mom and dad love harder and fuller than anyone I’ve ever known.
My mom. The most loving, giving, strong, forgiving, peaceful, joyful, faithful and wise person I’ve ever known. Her faith has been so steadfast and has inspired me no matter where I’ve been in my journey. She is the embodiment of one of her favorite verses, “Cling to that which is good.”
When I think of her, sometimes I reflect on the birth of Emma – a surreal moment that meant more to me than I can put into words. Its amazing how much you can love someone that you just met. She was new life. New life was in our family after all those years of not having Tim! And I longed to share that joy with my parents. Not that my children would ever replace Tim, but that they could love a child again. My parent’s love is so big, that it just needs to be shared.
Things came full circle somehow that day. Jared had, in a very short time, gone from being a complete stranger to a new son to my parents. I remember that day mom stood up in their tiny country church back in Florida – the same church where we held the funeral for Tim – and in tears introduced Jared saying, “I have a son, again.” Jared seemed quite uncomfortable, all eyes on him, mom’s tears welling up (she doesn’t cry often). But later, he would say that that was the moment he first believed in God. We would renew our wedding vows in a very small ceremony in that same church for our ten year anniversary. Those struggles our family experienced when I was young somehow only strengthened the ferocious love and devotion my parents had and they really understood the gift of life and how precious it is. Now I could share their love with my husband and children.
I always say, and it’s true, that I’d love to be half the mom that my mom is. Not because she cleaned my room (a lot) or listened to my hours of whining on the telephone or rubbed my back with her soft hand, or put up with my being out all hours of the night on breaks from college, or survived the many car accidents I got into that nearly gave her a nervous breakdown. It isn’t that she’s been like a second mom to my kids ever since they were born, or that she has more patience and is more laid back than anyone ever. It isn’t any particular thing that made my mom the person that I’ve always wanted to be. It was just her love.
That love has inspired me in every way. Its woven itself into the fabric of my life and given its tapestry such a beauty and brightness. Its truly the perfect picture of God’s love : It’s a love that is patient and kind. It doesn’t envy or boast. It’s not rude or self-seeking. It has never kept a record of my wrongs, it doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.. it has always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered….
That love has never failed. And I know it never will.
I’m the worst at sending cards, something I got honestly from mom, who could care less about any card or gift. We have both been guilty of forgetting each other’s birthdays and have never made a big to-do about holidays in general. I don’t even think our card (that Jared bought and I signed) will get there on time. But today my mind just wandered to her and how much I miss and still need her even at almost forty years old. So here I am writing. Because it’s something that I can do to express how unbelievably blessed I feel to have her as not only my mother, but my friend.
Mom, words may fall short, but you never have. God is so good. He knew that I would need a mother to be strong and encourage me in my hardest struggles and to pray for me in my darkest hours. There certainly have been many twists and turns in my life, yet it’s been full of grace. All through it, you have been a light, shining the love of Christ to all around you. You have shown me what real faith, hope and love look like as you follow Him, leaving lasting impressions along that narrow path that leads to glory.
I love you forever.
This song always makes me think of mom because she loves it and we joke how this will be her funeral song. LOL. It may sound morbid, but there is no fear in love. It’s a love song to God that we can both share as we live out His love in thanks and praise.