I've been thinking a lot lately about how much heartbreak motherhood can bring.
In my experience it can be an amazingly sweet, perfect, awesome, inspiring job as I go from day to day mothering little people who rely on me for their every need- both real and imagined. I love my little babies who can go from smelling like the sweetest things in the world to the most sour within seconds. I cherish the precious moments that I have with my babes- cuddling, kissing, laughing, talking, and yes lecturing too.
Motherhood, without a doubt, has brought me more blessings and happiness than I ever dreamed possible.
But because motherhood can bring such joy, such promise, such a ray of sunshine- there is great potential for incredible pain when something horrible and unplanned happens to the tiny bodies in our care.
I'm thinking today of and praying for my friend Kate- from Chasing Rainbows. I met Kate only a few months ago as we were contenders for the same category in the Parents magazine contest. When we met, we were both mothers of special needs children- blogging, advocating, and loving fiercely that perfect babies that we were sent. Today? Kate is facing the reality of loss. Kate is facing the reality of an empty bed at home with her superhero Gavin stayed the night at the morgue. Kate has to unexpectedly say goodbye to her five year old son who has brought her so much love and joy. The little boy who made her motherhood amazing- is now gone.
I'm thinking today of and praying for the many families affected by the bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon yesterday. The mother who got a call from her two sons- learning that both of them each lost a leg. The mother who lost her eight year old son, whose daughter lost a leg, and who also had to have brain surgery herself. I'm thinking today of the families who lost loved ones and the families touched by countless injuries- life altering injuries. Many innocent people who were hurt by a cruelty I can't comprehend.
I'm thinking today of and praying for the mother whose 26 year old son died over a movie ticket because mall security saw "Down syndrome" and treated him with roughness that ended up suffocating him.
I'm thinking today of and praying for my sister, who just recently grieved the one year mark of her son's death. What should have been a first birthday celebration was instead a week of grieving. When a newborn body is overtaken by a silent virus, the only symptom being a heart attack- the job of motherhood becomes one of intense heartbreak.
I'm thinking today of and praying for so many friends who are facing unexpected twists in their parenting journeys. Injuries, sickness, surgeries, long recoveries, pain. Twists that make the future look scary, the end result unknown, the source of parental happiness ambiguous.
Life is hard, unfair, and seemingly full of mistakes at times.
I don't know about you, but sometimes events such as these threaten the "God is good" chorus with a "Is he really?" Would a good God allow this to happen? Would a good God let such evil destroy so many innocent lives? Would a good God care so little about these families that he would allow them to be torn apart with such grief?
This week I've been reading "One Thousand Gifts". Ann Voskamp's words have really helped me, so I'm sharing some of them here:
"Really, when you bury a child- or when you just simply get up every day and live life raw- you murmur the question soundlessly. No one hears. Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long lights, and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?"
"Do I believe in a God who rouses Himself just now and then to spill a bit of benevolence on hemorrhaging humanity? A God who breaks through the carapace of this orb only now and then, surprises us with a spared hand, a reprieve from sickness, a good job and a nice house in the burbs- and then finds Himself again too impotent to deal with all I see as suffering and evil? A God of sporadic, random, splattering goodness- that now and then splatters across a gratitude journal?"
"I remember her silken hair. I still don't know why He took her. I don't know why her children don't run free on spring days with mine, laugh with my sister's. Don't know why my parents' hearts were left to weep, eroding all away. Though I cry, this I know: God is always good and I am always loved and eucharisteo [thankfulness] has made me my truest self, "full of grace."
This book has been of such great comfort to me this week as I think of so many people going through such intense pain. There are no easy answers- no pat responses- no bandaids that can cover the grief.
There is no promise of tomorrow for any of us. No pre-planned life that we pay for in advance and get to choose all of the side roads.
But as I look to the gift of today, with my two children and the many blessings that I normally tend to overlook- I trust a big God who is in control. I don't understand why He allows certain things to happen. I don't understand how to best help when the unthinkable does occur. But I know to be thankful for the good that is here. Good that sometimes I forget to see. Good that keeps my life turning on its course- even when that course may not be the one I think is right.
Today I remember. Today I grieve. Today I cry. But also? Today I am thankful.