It's that time of year again. Endless jewelry commercials on TV. Flowers featured prominently in grocery stores. Greeting cards, teddy bears, and giant balloons all remind us that May is here. Specifically, Mother's Day is upon us.
I did not want this day to come.
Not because I don't have a wonderful mom, (and mother-in-law!) which I do, but because two years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy we named Vincent. This year his birthday falls on a Tuesday. But in 2009 he was born smack dab on Mother's Day, the best Mom's day gift I ever got. And then lost.
Ever since Vincent was diagnosed with and then passed away from an extremely rare form of liver cancer, I have met many other families who have also lost children. Cancer, car accidents, homicides, miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths - there are so many ways kids die. And there are many bereaved parents out there, more than I ever deemed likely in our first-world country. I found out that every year, between 80,000 and 100,000 children under 19 die in the U.S. (depending on the source). That's a lot of bereaved parents, a lot of devastated moms. I know one absolutely wonderful family that has lost three children, all shortly after birth.
Needless to say, Mother's Day is a difficult holiday for many women. Some women have tried for years to have a baby, going through endless and expensive fertility treatments only to be continually disappointed. Other families have faced tragic developments while attempting to adopt. Still others have raised healthy children, only to see the relationship fracture over time. I even have a few friends who for various painful reasons elected to have abortions early in their child-bearing years.
So as you celebrate Mother's Day this year, think about the friends you know who have experienced the loss of a child, the loss of fertility, the loss of an adoption. If you know of a family in your church, workplace or community who has lost a child, please, let them know that you remember. That you care. Send them flowers or a card. Write them a note or online message. Whatever you do, don't tell them that their child is in a better place, or that it will all work out in the end. Don't tell them to be happy. Just let them know that you care, that you are honoring their child, that you remember what happened to their child. Parents never forget. So try to remember, for their sake.
And then they'll remember that you remembered.