There's more to me than "Mommy"…but not by much!

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Our Beautiful Family May 18, 2010

My cousin is tying the knot this weekend.  Weddings have a tendency of bringing me back to my own day as a bride.  Since Matt’s death that day has become bittersweet.  Other than my children’s birthdays, it was the happiest day of my life.  All of my family and closest friends were there.  Justin was as charming as ever; and my little brother was giving me away.  I remember feeling like my heart was going to explode…like it couldn’t contain all the love welling inside me.

Our wedding was anything but traditional.  We probably broke every etiquette rule in the book.  A late wedding without a formal reception?  Groom and groomsmen waltzing in to the sound of the A-Team theme song?  So, naturally we didn’t play the typical Wedding March when I walked down the aisle.  Instead, we chose “How Beautiful”.  I remember how nervous I was.  I could tell that Matt was nervous too but bursting with pride.  I tried to tell him what he was supposed to say when the minister asked, “Who gives this woman to this man to be joined in holy matrimony?” and in typical Matt fashion he cut me off and replied, “I got it, sis.  I already know what I’m gonna say.”  You can imagine how nervous that made me.  What is he going to say in front of all these witnesses?  In front of my soon-to-be in-laws?  As we strolled down the aisle, my mind wondered all over the place but focused mostly on my groom.  I nearly forgot about the “surprise” response my brother would soon make.  His answer:  “Her family and me, her little overprotective brother.”  (No doubt meant as a warning to Justin.)  That was Matt.  The protector.  He was the same way with my mom, my sister and all our girl cousins.  Nobody better mess with us or he’d be in their face…respectfully, but still in their face.

On Mother’s Day, we sang that now so special and precious song during church.  I didn’t realize it immediately but after the first line or two, it hit me like a wave crashing against the rocks.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  Just trying to write about it is putting a lump in my throat and water in my eyes.  I don’t think it was coincidence that we happened to sing “How Beautiful” on that day.  After all, Mother’s Day often leads us to focus more on family.  Marriages are the foundation of family.  And once again we were reminded that Matt was now a missing part of that family.  I like to think that God was listening to our hearts that day and sent us a glimpse of heaven and a tender touch of hope.  After all, Matt’s not really dead.  He’s just asleep, but always alive within us…because we’re all a part of God’s beautiful family.

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing sacrifice and unfailing love.  Thank you for the hope of a brighter tomorrow and the promise of a time when all tears, pain, and sorrow will end forevermore.  Thank you for the promise of an eternity spent with You and for calling us Your own, for calling us family.  May Your kingdom come quickly, O Lord.  Amen.


Here’s to you, Mom! May 9, 2010

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Well, it’s Mother’s Day weekend.  I just want everybody to know that I got the pick of the litter!  (Jealous?  You should be. ;-)) We’ve been known to butt heads (because we’re both stubborn that way…it’s a family trait. ;-)) but I wouldn’t want any other mother.  I’m very proud to call her mine.

What can I say about her?  She’s real and authentic.  She’s bold and daring.  She’s inventive.  When she sets her mind to do something, you can be sure it will be done (and she probably has a role for you too!).  She tells it like it is…calls them like she sees them.  She’s funny and witty.  But her very best quality is her love.  She loves deeply.  It’s not the kind of “touchy, feely” love that some mothers have.  She doesn’t gush over you or smother you with hugs and kisses.  It’s more secretive.  She loves quietly, patiently, willingly.  She loves in the things she DOESN’T do.  She doesn’t cling.  She doesn’t hover.  She doesn’t try to run your life.  Instead she lets go and respects your choices.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  She’s happy to lend her opinion but in the end, she knows it’s your life.

This past year she had to let go in a really big way.  In a heartbreaking way.  Our whole family did but on the occasion of Mother’s Day, the pain of that reality weighs heaviest on her shoulders.  You see, she lost her only son.  Some wounds cut deep and take a lifetime to heal.  Some wounds are only truly understood by those who’ve experienced the same thing.  I can’t imagine losing a child, even an adult child.  She wasn’t supposed to have to grieve her son.  It betrays the natural order of life…and it’s so horribly unfair.

Matt, being the only son, shared a special bond with mom that can never be replaced or duplicated.  He was much like her, the optimist, the free spirit.  He doted on mom especially on holidays and occasions like today.  I did good to send a card or give her a phone call.  He sent flowers and gifts.  He was so proud of his “Mama”.  So, naturally her first Mother’s Day without him will remind her of that void much like my birthday did for me.  If I never heard from my brother all year, I could rest confident in the fact that he’d call me on my birthday.  He always did.  But not this year.  Never again in this life.  Thankfully that’s not the end of the story.  We will see him again.  But for now we must remain patient.

Mom, I love you.  You are strong, courageous, and faithful.  You’ve been there for us all these years and continue to be there now.  As you face this day meant for celebrating carrying a mournful heart, I pray that you will recall happy times that bring you joy and not sadness.  But if that sadness should come, I pray that you will share it and not hide it for you are not alone.  Matt loved you so very much and he was so very proud of you.  So am I.  You are an amazing Mama and I dearly love you.  He lives on in our hearts and today I picture him saying, “Mama, please don’t cry.  I’ve got a beautiful bouquet up here waiting for you that will never spoil, wilt, or fade.  I arranged it myself from my Father’s garden.  Just wait until you see it!”