Welcome to the Sweet Pea Project's Blog, part of the Sweet Pea Project's effort to create a supportive and compassionate community for those of us affected by the death of a child. Here you will find updates on the Sweet Pea Project, as well as anything going on in the world that relates to childloss. If you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see discussed here, I'd love to hear it. Please make sure you stop by the official website, www.sweetpeaproject.org and feel free to email me for any reason at anytime at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.
peace, Stephanie Cole (Madeline's Mom)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day & Erma Bombeck

If you've been a part of this community for awhile, you have probably already read the piece that I wrote back in 2010 about my first Mother's Day and how the weight of it all lifted just a bit when I learned of the history behind the holiday.  If you haven't already read it, please check it out here: http://sweetpeaproject.blogspot.com/2010/05/mothers-day-of-peace.html

Instead of reposting that piece here, I wanted to share something that I stumbled upon  recently.  The woman who owns the art gallery where I have worked for the past decade always calls me "the next Erma Bombeck" because she thinks I am an "honest and hilarious storyteller."  (I can think of few compliments that could ever make me happier.)  And so I picked up some of her work the other day and started flipping through it, and came across an incredibly relevant piece of writing.

The following is a column written by Erma Bombeck.  It was first published on May 14, 1995 and it was later include in the book Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing from America'sFavorite Humorist.  I think all the mothers who have outlived their children, and there are far too many of us, will find it to be a relevant read this weekend.  For so many of us, this Sunday will not feel special or beautiful.  In fact, it might feel torturous.  Worse yet, we may feel excluded and unworthy.  But we belong in the category of mother, and we deserve that recognition on this (and every) day. 

We are still mothers.

Mothers who have lost a child - May 14, 1995
by Erma Bombeck

If you’re looking for an answer this Mother's Day on why God reclaimed your child, I don't know.  I only know that thousands of mothers out there today desperately need an answer as to why they were permitted to go through the elation of carrying child and then lose it to miscarriage, accident, violence disease or drugs.

Motherhood isn't just a series of contractions.  It's a state of mind.  From the moment we know life is inside us, we feel a responsibility to protect and defend that human being.  It's a promise we can't keep.  We beat ourselves to death over that pledge.  "If I hadn't worked through the eighth month."  "If I had taken him to the doctor when he had a fever."  "If I hadn't let him use the car that night."  "If I hadn't been so naive, I'd have noticed he was on drugs."

The longer I live, the more convinced I become that surviving changes us.  After the bitterness, the anger, the guilt, and the despair are tempered by time, we look at life differently.

While I was writing my book, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise, I talked with mothers who had lost a child to cancer.  Every single one said death gave their lives new meaning and purpose.  And who do you think prepared them for the rough, lonely road they had to travel?  Their dying child.  They pointed their mothers toward the future and told them to keep going.  The children had already accepted what their mothers were fighting to reject.

The children in the bombed-out nursery in Oklahoma City have touched more lives than they will ever know.  Workers who had probably given their kids a mechanical pat on the head without thinking that morning are making phone calls home during the day to their children to say "I love you."

This may seem like a strange Mother's Day column on a day when joy and life abound for the millions of mothers throughout the country.  But it's also a day of appreciation and respect.  I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.

In the face of adversity, we are not permitted to ask, "Why me?"  You can ask, but you won’t get an answer.  Maybe you are the instrument who is left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time you had with it.

The late Gilda Radner sums it up well:  "I wanted a perfect ending.  Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next.  Delicious ambiguity."

* * *
To all the mothers out there who have outlived their children, we at Sweet Pea Project are holding you close to our hearts and wishing you a gentle Mother's Day of Peace.

With love for my child and yours,
Stephanie Paige Cole

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