It is May 1st and I am with my family celebrating Pascha or Easter. According to our tradition the Last Supper was during Passover and so our holiday comes after Passover each year. It is also International Bereaved Mothers Day, a holiday meant to support women whose children have died, started by Carly Marie. Today women who have faced miscarriages, the death of a child or infertility will be nurtured and remembered. Our Mother’s Day holiday excludes many including the infertile and bereaved, so Carly Marie started this new holiday. However, I’m not so sure that another holiday is what we need. Instead we can open our hearts as a community and remember those around us who suffer from losses with those who have not. If we are united as a community then my own grief is your grief, and we can share in love and joy and sadness together.
As I stood in front of the altar of Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers, New York, this morning, I lit one candle for the dead on one side of the holy doors and one candle for the living on the other side, my two children. I thought about my trisomy 18 communities and all the babies who died in the last few weeks. Some were born still, some lived for a moment. I remembered International Bereaved Mothers Day and I had to step outside the side door of church to catch my breath. I have been walking between the living and the dead for so long now it seems that the veil between the worlds is permanently thin. I live in a space with my living and my dead.
Next Sunday, May 8th, is Mother’s Day in the United States. I will stay home with my son and garden and go for a walk. I will remember Mary Rose and my son next Sunday, as I do every day. I cannot separate my own role as a mother to that of a bereaved mother today to celebrate Carly Marie’s day of remembrance, and then celebrate as a joyful mother of a living child next Sunday. I am one woman, and I wish that our culture could operate as one body where we can share our lives with our fellow co-workers, parishioners, friends, family, etc.
Who is the God does wonders? we sang in church today. Our God, our God, our God is so great who does wonders, we reply. Is Mary Rose a wonder of God? Is my dear, living son? I rejoice often that I was chosen to bear Mary Rose, and the grief that I live with, and will continue to live with, is the price I pay for being her mother. I rejoice often for my dear son.
We also sang Let us embrace each other joyously! this morning. This is my hope and my prayer for Pascha, for Mother’s Day. I pray that we can embrace each other joyously in both our sorrows and our joys. I pray that we develop communities that support each other united as one body, instead of comfortably staying in our cliques and rejoicing with new mothers of healthy living children while bereaved mothers and infertile women feel marginalized. We cannot only support people in their joy. We cannot only offer condolences in the aftermath of tragedy. Grief takes time to work itself through. We are all a part of this earth at this particular moment in time, and we can only heal together. May we learn to sit with each other in sorrow and in joy. May we offer love and tea. May it be so every day of the year.
For last year’s post Mother’s Day for the Bereaved click here: http://www.diannavagianos.com/blog/?p=95 I discuss celebrating with our loved ones who have died and connecting with their spirits.