Archive for May, 2011

25 Years Ago Today…Happy Birthday Stephen

May 22nd, 2011 | 1 comment

“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~

Today Is Stephen’s 25th birthday. It is a quiet day here, one of reflection and remembrance. I miss him, and I wish he was here so I could bake him a cake, and sing, and just love him. It has always been a day of mixed emotions to be honest. The day I received Stephen, I lost his brother. In many ways, I always go back to that day, where I had to balance both joy and pain. It was the beginning of my education on life and finding gratitude in grief.

I’ve been thinking about this special birthday for months. First, I wanted to go away. I thought I would attend a retreat. Perhaps meditate for the weekend. Maybe I would completely distract myself with some household chore or activity. I ended up doing something much more personal, sitting with my thoughts. I’ve spent the entire weekend thinking about what the next step is for me, and how I can continue to spread all the goodness that was Stephen.

25 years ago today, I had no idea one little person would make such a long lasting impact on my life. I, as a very young and very unprepared mother, was worried about what I would need to do, how much my life would change, what I would have to sacrifice. I have to be honest, I was worried about how this would forever change the course of my life, not how I could potentially affect the course of his.

I did not realize that this small, fuzzy wrinkled miracle would bring me nothing but gifts. I simply had no idea of the events that would unfold after I heard that small but determined little cry in the delivery room.

Funny isn’t it. Those moments when we think that life is over. They are actually just beginning. The things that appear to crush us do not, but perhaps mold us ( albeit painfully) so that we are ready for the good that will come from change. I know sometimes when you’re right in the “thick of it” it is hard to believe that good could come from it. But it does. If you choose to let it.

That’s what I’m thinking about today, on Stephen’s birthday. The good that came from, and continues to come from his unplanned, unexpected life. Each day, as I write, or respond to someone who has read his story, I feel the ripple of his life. The brilliance of his soul continues to shine and sparkle when I spread love.

Even in something as bad as death, something good can be found. If you choose to believe that it is possible to be happy, even through tears.

That is what I hold onto today.

So today, do me a favor. Celebrate with me. But doing one thing. Look at your own life. See the good and bad. And ask yourself where it can take you. I guarantee you if you let it, it will teach you and lead to something wonderful. Take stock of where you are, and what you want for your life.

Today, I am thankful for Stephen, and the ripple of his life as it continues to impact the lives of so many.

On a side note, I am thankful that yesterday was not the end of the world. In some weird warped way, the thought of the earth’s demise and potential rapture made this weekend a little easier for me. As I awoke this morning, I knew the day would be tough, but certainly not as tough as was predicted. One little thing to be thankful for…..sorry, sarcasm runs in my family.

I will leave you with the thoughts I wrote about him last year and a song from one of his favorite bands.

Spread some love today will ya?


You’re Just Like Your Mother…

May 4th, 2011 | 3 comments

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

Growing up, I often heard the phrase,
“You’re just like your mother.”
I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember. Even at her funeral, relatives and friends alike remarked how much I reminded them of her. At the time, at twenty years old, I could not see it.
But the truth is, I was and still am. I look like my mother, with her crooked flat little nose. I sound like my mother and can almost hear her in the room when I guffaw in a certain way after hearing something that tickles my funny bone. I can feel her when I slam a cupboard in frustration, or get excited about good news. I am private like she was, and live a life that is introverted, even though some would think I am an open book. I am flawed, but accepting of those imperfections because she showed me that it was okay to be less than perfect. When I am baking, and the recipes works, I feel my mother in the kitchen with me, willing me to succeed in cutting squares that are actually square, and not something like a parallelogram out of a tenth grade geometry text. (why does everyone need squares to be square anyway?)
When Stephen died, I longed for her, needing a comfort that only a mother could give her child. And, that not being possible, I instead decided to conduct myself in a way that was “Madge-like.” I took comfort in the fact that if she could not be with me, at least she was with Stephen. I tried to be dignified, loving, and sometimes even stoic. But most of all, I tried to be like her and remain positive and strong in the face of tremendous hurt in life. Truly, when I think about my choice to grieve with gratitude, she deserves a great measure of the credit. More than my nose, I believe I am most like my mother in how I deal with the valleys of life. And that makes me proud.
I wonder if she realized the immense responsibility that was hers when she took on this gig called motherhood. I wonder if she understood that through the way she lives, I would grow to see life through her eyes. From her, I learned how to express love, frustration, and anger. I learned how a marriage should work. I learned how much a mother should tolerate and where to draw the line. I learned how to love my own children, and be a protective Momma bear. I learned how to bake bread, make soup and slam cupboards when I disagreed with the direction of the family. I learned about tradition, and how to make occasions special. She taught me resilience, and how to stand tall when life was less than perfect. She showed me that not only was it okay for me to be happy, it was required. She was not perfect, and showed me that was okay too.
So, as we approach this Mother’s Day, I would ask you to do two important things.
Give thanks for your own mother, and all she did throughout the years to shape you into the human being you are today. Whether she is living or has passed on, take some time this weekend to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.
And finally, if you yourself are now a mother, think about the life you are reflecting in your own child’s eyes. Are you teaching your child about happiness, love and gratitude? Are you, through your own life, showing your child that they are beautiful and worthy of all the joy that life has to offer?
Happy Mother’s Day Madge. Heaven is lucky to have you.
p.s. The photo is one of my favorites of my mother, and was taken at my birthday party. It captures who she was, with her hands on her hips and that grin. She was awesome. If you look closely, in the corner of the picture, you can see my neighbor Gary climbing the fence. Shortly after this picture was taken, I had a meltdown at my party ( this happened every year, as I could not take the attention) and was escorted to my bedroom to watch my friends and relatives from my window as they enjoyed the celebration of my birth. I don’t think Madge was smiling so much as she dragged me down the hall kicking and screaming and otherwise being a monster. My family and I call it Birthday Party Syndrome. And yes, I still have this affliction, and require some quiet time each birthday….although now, I do not require an escort, and just go quietly without a fuss.