Mother’s Day 2017
A Bitter Sweet Day
For several years now, ever since my mom passed away, Mother’s Day has been bittersweet for me. Oh, I have celebrated each year since her passing but it has always been different without her here. It is something that is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t lost their mom. Even though I have children of my own that celebrate me there just has been something missing when you don’t have “your” mom here.
This year however is going to be extremely difficult and different. The bittersweet of this year will be compounded. This year four very big pieces of my heart will be missing, Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah won’t be here to celebrate with me this year and they will be missed by all of us. My heart hurts for my whole family who miss them as much as I do and especially for our Bekah and Jared who have lost all their parents and two siblings.
The One Who First Made Me a Mommy
Mandy was the first one who made me a mommy. It was October 15, 1982 and I became a young (19) single mama. I was terrified at the very thought of being a mommy and a single one at that. At the age of 19 I knew nothing about being a mom, but I was confident (well most of the time) in the choice that I had made. I remember that day like it was yesterday, I can still see the room that I was in and remember every single detail. When they placed her in my arms for the first time I had emotions flood over me that I had never felt before and a love filled my entire being that I didn’t know existed. The day that I was to take that sweet little girl home I was in my hospital room alone (my parents had not gotten there yet) and there she laid on my bed and next to her was this little tiny outfit. The nurses had come in earlier and told me it was time to get her ready to go home, and there I sat. I was paralyzed with fear in that moment. I sat staring at that tiny little baby and that outfit, how in the world was I going to get that baby into that outfit? I began to cry and I remember the sweet nurse who came in and asked me what was wrong. In between my sobbing, I managed to tell her that I had no idea what I was doing or how I was supposed to get Mandy into that outfit without breaking her. This sweet nurse assured me that I wasn’t going to break her and gently helped me put her in her first outfit. While she helped, me she told me not to be afraid, that we were going to be just fine and I would figure it all out as I went along. It wasn’t long after that when my mom and dad came to take us home and our new journey began. It was time for my new normal to start, ready or not.
I quickly found that being a mommy was hard and my life was undergoing a lot of changes very quickly. You realize that most of your friends don’t understand why you can’t hang out anymore and quite frankly I really didn’t have a desire to either. The things that had been so important in my life, hanging out with friends, partying and living a fast lane life were no longer important. Now I knew what it meant to worry and care about someone more than yourself. I learned to put her needs before mine and I finally started growing up.
God Used Her to Save My Life
Over the years, I have often told people that even though I didn’t have a personal relationship with God at the time that God used Mandy to save my life. Sometimes I shudder to think where I would have ended up and what choices I would have made if Mandy hadn’t come into my life when she did. I am not proud to say that I was on a path I really shouldn’t have been on. Mandy changed that path.
By the time, Mandy was three years old I had met my husband and we soon became a family. It was a joyous time for me because I often wondered before meeting Tim if I ever would meet anyone. Not many guys stuck around long when they found out I had a toddler and that was ok because I was a package deal. God knew what He was doing: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
It was very clear from an early age that Mandy had a love for people, she loved everyone she met and boy did she love to talk (If you know me you know that she came by that honestly). She was full of energy and life. It was also clear that she loved books, writing, music, her friends, her family and God. We learned all that watching her go from a toddler to adulthood. She never wavered in those things.
As a parent, you pray for your children all the time. You pray for their day to day lives, their futures, their future spouses. You are forced to face fears when they are growing up, what if they get hurt, what if someone hurts them, the what if’s can almost haunt you if you allow it to. When our children were small we gave them back to God and trusted Him with their lives. We trusted God with Mandy each time she went off to youth camp as teenager, each time she wasn’t with us, when she was in college, when she took multiple missions trips and when she met the love of her life and began to plan her wedding and move to South Carolina.
A New Beginning
In August of 2012 we gave our sweet Mandy to Scott Kelly and they became a family. Scott’s first wife had passed away and they had three sweet babies together, Bekah, Jared and Lizzie. Mandy quickly fell in love with Scott and the children and it became clear quickly that God had a plan in mind for them as a family. We welcomed Scott and the children into our hearts and lives and as did they for us into their lives. On May 22, 2016 Scott and Mandy got the call they had been waiting for little Judah became a part of our lives. Their family was complete.
On March 21, 2017 in the early morning hours God called Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah home, the result of a house fire. Isaiah 55:8: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
This was not a part of the story that I anticipated, it wasn’t one that I was prepared for, it wasn’t something I knew how to handle. Standing in front of their destroyed home that early morning, staring at it, in shock, praying that they would just walk around the house and into my waiting arms I was terrified. I knew I had to stay standing for my grandchildren who made it out, but my insides were in a total panic that I can’t even explain. That was baby inside that house and there was nothing I could do. I hadn’t been able to protect her (them) from this tragedy that had just occurred in our lives. I was rendered totally powerless and numb.
And now, Mother’s Day. My heart isn’t even sure how to feel because I miss them all so very much. So, I choose to take a deep breath and acknowledge that I miss that like crazy and to carry on like they would want me to. Why? That’s simple, because I have hope and joy that I will be with them again one day and I have two other babies that made me a mommy too. I have Nicholas and his wife Ashley and my Samantha as well as four precious grandchildren; Bekah, Jared, Evelyn and Landen.
This year I will celebrate the 34 amazing years I had with my Mandy, the very short 4 years I had with Scott and Lizzie and the 10 short months that I had with Judah and I will shed tears and I will smile. I will celebrate that God gave me a beautiful family who loves me, amazing children and precious grandchildren.
Let me encourage all of you to do the same. Cherish the memories that you have and the new ones that you will make as the days go by. For those of us who have given our children back to God we know that their futures are in His hands. Life is too short to waste it – none of us are promised tomorrow and we never know what the future will hold.
Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.