When I was a little girl, my aunt had this beautiful picture in her house. I remember telling her how much I loved it each and every time we came over. Fast forward twenty-years, and I’m at my baby shower. Imagine my shocked surprise when I opened the picture. “When I found out you were having a son,” she said, “I just knew I had to give it to you.” All these eight years, we’ve kept the picture … and I’ve admired it for the memory … for the nostalgia … and for the likeness of my own baby boy who is already quite grown.
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie
I believe in this formidable love, because I’ve felt it. Every time my son or daughter make me laugh, every time they make me cry, every time I am blessed by their presence alone – I feel it like a tangible string tugging between my heart and theirs. Sometimes, as they grow, that line seems to stretch incredibly taught as I feel them stretching into their own sense of self and purpose in this world, and instinct draws me to follow them, but life gently reminds me they need to find their own way. The love I feel as a mother makes me believe more than I ever was able before, that love never fails … and a friend of mine recently reminded me, it also never ends.
The first day I met my friend Spring, I was delighted by her gentle spirit and pure heart. She giggled openly, she didn’t shelter or hold back genuine interest in our conversation, and she shared her life stories without the careful filter most people apply. She was real … and it was refreshing. Having only known her for a couple of months, I almost forgot – almost but not quite, just what she would be dealing with very soon. Sure enough, it happened last week. Spring sent out a prayer request for strength because it was going to be a tough day. I instantly flashed back to that first day, and that first conversation. Because like any unassuming stranger, I’d made small talk, and asked what people our age asked, “Do you have any kids?” She remarked that they had one boy, and his name was Henry – was.
One year ago, Spring uncovered her own definition of mother’s love. And I imagine it was something like Uma Thurman’s description that said, “Before I had my child, I thought I knew all the boundaries of myself, that I understood the limits of my heart. It’s extraordinary to have all those limits thrown out, to realize your love is inexhaustible.” But where Spring is concerned, her love also needed to become ethereal, and the string that tethers her heart to her son’s needs to stretch from heaven to earth. Henry was born with a defect in his diaphragm which caused internal complications too large for his tiny, perfect heart to handle.
And my own heart, at this story, was anguished. As I witnessed happy birthday wishes to their little prince, I struggled to even know what to say. Even as a writer, what words can you offer that bring any semblance of peace? I found none. But suddenly … I remembered that picture, from all those years ago. I wondered if it might be time to pass it on, if it could offer any comfort at all. So I did. And I hope that in the frozen embrace she can: feel the tiny hand that held hers ever-so-briefly, imagine the way his perfect head rested on her shoulder, picture the divine moment when she gets to hold him once again. Sometimes, the love of God is fierce, so much so that it overpowers even a mother’s love. And in that unquenchable moment of love, God chooses to not let go, because that child is just too special, too gentle, and too endeared to be gone from heaven so long.
I know this, and yet my mother’s heart breaks for her, and for everyone who ever loved Henry.
Please pray with me today,