This morning, after getting my husband off to work, I climbed back into bed next to my youngest, Abigail, who will be seven next month. Like most mommies, I love looking at my children while they sleep. There are no requests, no complaints… just angelic faces and arms clutching cherished objects of affection.
Looking at Abi didn’t feel like enough this morning. Neither was lying next to her enough. I grabbed her hand, and she sleepily clutched mine back. I wrapped my other arm around her tiny, tiny waist and scooched her closer to me. I kissed her little face, and did not want to stop. I wanted to give her hard kisses, and squeeze her so, so tightly…
I wanted to press us together, bring her inside my body again. I wished for wings like a mama bird to cover her completely, or a secret hiding place like a mother koala.
Yes, I want to protect her from the world. From everything: from violence, from sickness, from sadness… All mothers want to do that for their children, because mothers are designed to do that.
Mothers are not designed to handle losing their children. And the kinship of motherhood makes it so that when one mother is forced to deal with that which is so unnatural, all of motherhood is affronted.
Does this seem like I’m trying to insert myself into this horrible tragedy? I don’t mean to… Like you, probably, I am just processing what has happened, thinking about what could possibly be done to help, and – quite honestly – being thankful that it isn’t me in the middle of this nightmare.
Back to this morning. I imagine this as the worst time for the grieving mothers of Newtown. If somehow, mercifully, they’ve found sleep, that first early morning waking must be the most painful. Where most of us remain in our sleepy stupor – maybe roll over or adjust our pillow – and drift right back off to sleep, they have to remember, realize and accept once again what life has now become: more lonely, more empty… never again the same.
I don’t know what a mother can do with the physical pain that must come; no relief comes from tucking your head, drawing your knees to your chest, clutching your heart… I don’t know what a mother can do with the rage that must follow; the perpetrator is gone, there’s nothing to be done. I don’t know what a mother can do if she has other children, as many surely do, who need her to function and go on.
What can a mother do with Christmas presents bought for a child who will never play again? What can she do if she remembers sharp words said during that last hurried morning? What can she do with a room full of dolls and teacups or legos and matchbox cars?
I don’t know. I just don’t know and so yes, my physical need for my little one this morning was because I want to protect her but was also because I want to protect me. I want to never, ever, ever have to figure out the answers that those mothers in Connecticut are having to learn.
When we learned of the shooting on Friday, I was texting with my two best friends. We were crying, and one said she kept starting to pray for the mothers – for comfort and peace – but she would stop because, well, it’s ridiculous. It’s not possible to be comforted. And yet we who are so helpless have found that this mystery of prayer is all we have to offer right now. And so we pray for something supernatural, something we cannot comprehend, for those mommies.
That’s where I am this morning. I’ve never been very good at conclusions, so I will leave it at that. Please share your non-political thoughts in the comments below. Being a mother is being part of high sisterhood, and we are all grieving together.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NASB)
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