My mother, Dorothy Mae Ross, was laid to rest on April 4, 2017, so I now recognize Mother’s Day without her. Although I would rather be excluded, I have joined the elite group of those who share that same loss.
This can be a truly sad weekend for the woman without a mother, but it can also be difficult for those who have a broken or difficult relationship with theirs. Tears rolled down my face during my mother’s home-going because I understood the need for reconciliation more than ever before.
I can remember my days as a stubborn teen—there were moments I hated being her child. What I cannot remember is all of the early days of nurturing, right after birth, when I’m sure my mother fixated her eyes on me, kissed my cheeks, checked and changed countless diapers, and rocked me quietly to sleep.
Once we realize that we can never pick up that phone to say, “Hello. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” or visit her with gifts or take her out for a lovely meal, the reality hits like a ton of bricks. The loss of our mother steals what should be an unbroken connection. Probably the most difficult thing to come to grips with is that we will not get the opportunity for any do-overs. There is no escaping the finality of death when she comes in to close the doors on all that has been or will ever be. She is swift and sharp, cutting away our physical existence and tearing away the fabric of familiar or just casual connections with those left to mourn and grieve.
Now, as a woman and mother myself, Mother’s Day has a way of making me want to choose pardon over punishment, with outspread arms of comfort. I want to put aside disagreements, divisions, and differences and experience the restorative power of reconciliation—even when it is inconvenient or so difficult that we think we cannot do it.
Once we realize that we can never pick up that phone to say, “Hello. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” or visit her with gifts or take her out for a lovely meal, the reality hits like a ton of bricks.
I now know that I have no right to judge anyone for anything. As I’ve cycled through my life, I’ve gained understanding, and through humility, embraced opportunities to increase my faith. However, compared to my Heavenly Father’s infinite forgiveness, mercy, grace, and blessings, I was unwilling to give even a miniscule amount of forgiveness, protection, or peace of mind to a few people, my mother included. Being stubborn and determined, I separated myself, which I felt I deserved and needed in order to be able to survive and move forward with my life. Despite this, God has continued to bless me abundantly, and I now see that He knew I would need the loss of my dear mother to bend my ear and to break my spirit to push me to reconcile with my mother in my heart.
Today, I see everything as an essential experience. My mom’s role as my mother and my role as a mother has unfolded and intertwined painfully, yet beautifully. I can truly, really truly, say I know how to love in spite of encountering, participating in, and even practicing behaviors I know are unacceptable. We are all designed with our own perfect imperfections. Dorothy Mae Ross, thank you for your gift of life, and for giving me a piece of you so that I can carry on your legacy.
On the day that my sibling and I laid our mother to rest, we agreed it was a day of reconciliation. We said, “What our mother couldn’t do, let’s complete; what she did well, let’s continue to carry out; where she fell short, let’s build stronger bridges; and what she couldn’t say—through us, let her voice be heard. Let us not forget that she was God’s gift to us, and we were God’s gift to her.” We gifted one another, unselfishly and unabashedly, the assurance that we can still be loved, respected, and appreciated even in the midst of our disagreements and differences.
My prayer above all is that we will all be reconciled so that we can fully and freely enjoy, with no regrets, individually or collectively, every drop of life that remains in each of us.
“Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11, The Message).
Don’t miss this episode of our podcast Dear Mom! Be Encouraged on Mother’s Day (and Beyond) – 039.
You’ll also like The Gift of Accepting a Pardon, Comfort and Encouragement for the Fatherless, When You’re Desperate to Know the Reason for Your Pain, How to Move On From the Loss of a Dream in a Healthy Way, Building Faith: Growing in Your Relationship with God, and What Your Grieving Friend Really Wants You to Know.