I tried to sit down an write something thoughtful and profound this Mother's Day.
Instead, all I could think of was the healed-over emptiness in my life since my mom passed. It's like there is scar-tissue in my soul: there is healing, but it reminds me of the wound and the loss.
Our parents loom like giants in our lives. They can't help but be that. That's what they literally are to us when we are small. And even as we grow, no one can take their place.
It's strange, because when we become the age they were when were raising us, they seem both smaller and larger at the same time. We start to realize that they were human and fallible like us, and yet often we still have this awe that they seemed to have a better handle on so many things. Or maybe they didn't. Maybe their faults and failures have caused a brokeness in us that lasts to this day.
Because of their place in shaping who we are, it is easy to canonize or demonize them in our memories. It is hard to see them just exactly as they are.
My mom loved me.
My mom left me.
For some reason I hold both of these contradictory actions in my heart. Life is messy and life can be complicated. I would never have done what she did. But I cannot stop believing in her love for me.
Whenever the temptation to doubt her love comes to me, I remember lying in a hospital bed in the ICU when I was 15-years-old. And night after night, she slept in an uncomfortable chair near my bed, just so I would know that I was not alone. I am not qualified to do the moral calculations to say if moments like these outweigh all the mistakes.
I remember being a child and snuggling with her in front of the fireplace, just silently enjoying each other's affection. I remember watching her dance up a storm at my brother and sister's college graduation party. I remember her voice so clearly that sometimes I can almost hear it my ears.
All I know is that when I think of "Mom," that is what I remember.
I learned a long time ago that God is the judge and that I am not God. I learned that forgiveness is better than holding on to anger. I learned that love is always the right choice.
For all the mothers out there: if you ever have moments of doubt, if you ever worry about the mistakes you make, if you ever feel like you are not the mother you should be, then I have something to say. I cannot speak for anyone else, but when all is said and done, my mother will always be a part of me. And she is still alive in the man I am now. Her love brought me into this world and it still glows in my heart. My mother was my first love, before all others. And that is what you are to your children.
That first love is the seed that grows in the heart into the shape of what you think love should be. When you look at your children today, remember that you are their first love and love is the only legacy that matters.
And I hope to return that love to my mom when we meet again.