Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beyond the Hallmark Moment

"Did you know I was born because I wanted to be near my mommy?" - Claudia Martinez, age 8.

I found this quote in an old book and the concept this 8-year expresses is something the occurred to me a number of years ago. Do babies and souls choose who will be their mothers? It's an interesting thought to say the least.

Here is my own mother holding me.


I am stunned by how young she looks. She was 19 when this picture was taken. She will tell you herself that she was clueless about being a mom. I don't think my grandmother gave much advice and my mom didn't have a network of other young moms to rely on. She certainly learned on the job and she did a good job raising us kids. She was fun and creative and our house was always full, noisy, sometimes messy. But we were not perfect in anyway.

The young man I mentored for years once commented about my own family.

"I wish I had a normal family like yours," he said.

"If you see a family that looks normal to you, it means you're not looking close enough," I answered.

Here's a photo of my children. I'm posting this for a reason. Do you see mom? No. I'm rarely in any of the thousands of family photographs. I'm always the one behind the camera! And, as you can see, my children are very thrilled to be having their picture taken.


The body language tells it all.

"Mom's got that stupid vintage camera out again and she's trying to be all artsy-fartsy. Let's just stand still for one second and get it ove with."

There's another mom I'd like to talk about and she is my best friend. I've struggled for over a week for the right words. I know there are no right words to say and it's unacceptable to wait for the right words.

On this Mother's Day I'd like to express my deepest admiration and respect this mother who lost her only daughter 19 months ago. There were circumstances that required my friend to transform herself into a champion, an advocate and a defender for her child and she spent most of her adult life in this role.

It's important for us to talk about these losses, to remember and to honor these daughters and mothers. Everyone is there at the beginning, offering sympathy and help. But very soon after people begin to fall away.

The thought of someone losing a child is so terrifying and so close that soon we turn our eyes away and go on with our lives. My friend and I both understand the dynamics but it doesn't lessen the pain that it causes.

In the 19 months since Linz's death the kindest gesture was from a stranger. A clerk in the grocery store knowing nodded and simply through her eyes and her body language said, "I know, I see your pain. I care."

We can't be so frightened by the thought of these losses that we distance ourselves from these grieving mothers. And so today I honor my friend Diane. She's the most amazing person I've ever met. In her life she has exhibited a strength and commitment I never knew existed. I write regularly of my struggles with letting go but I'm always aware that she is struggling with the ultimate letting go.

Here's Linz - an amazing young woman. She's gone and we miss her terribly.


And again, mom is never in the picture. She's always the one in the background, capturing those moments.


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Ahhh, yes, invisible mom...

Wonderful to see a photo of your mom and to learn more about her. (Guess what? My mom is 19 years older than I, too.)

Your kids' photo makes me laugh. Did you require the pose or did your daughter naturally echo what her brother was doing?

My heart goes out to your friend whose daughter is gone, but never, never forgotten. It's tragic is what it is.

Hope that you are having a good Mother's Day... And, for goodness sake, get out from behind that camera. Ask someone to take a picture of you with those adorable kiddos! (Some fine day, I may even take my own advice.)

~~ATTIC CLUTTER~~ said...

Oh I enjoyed reading your Mothers Day blog ~very special~ I know what you mean ''always the one behind the camera''(:)
...lovely- beautiful children you have.. and my heart goes out to your friend who lost her beautiful daughter so sad (:(
big fat hugs Patty

Jerusalem said...

what a sweet mother's day tribute - to your mother, to your friend, for yourself even. I hope this day has been one filled of love and sweetness all around. PS- I am always behind the camera too...but I would rather take the pictures, than miss them all together...

diane said...

I am so touched by this. Thank you, Suzs.

Mary said...

Touching, tragic, sweet, beautiful...thank you for a very real and toughtful take on Mother's Day.

Rue said...

I can't imagine the pain of losing a child and my heart goes out to your friend. God Bless her.


Grandma said...

I KNOW how Diane feels. My only daughter died almost a year ago leaving two children 12 and 9 at the time. I have the 9 year old and her brother lives with a foster family elsewhere. It's a very tragic situation and I will never get over this. I am sure Diane feels the same. My daughter's death was so senseless and avoidable making it more even more tragic. It's been 11 months tomorrow and I cry every day. Does the pain ever end?