This is the date of Mother’s Day last year. My mom reminded me that this was the day that she took my grandmother to the hospital before she died on May 14th, 2019. This past Sunday, I wore my grape pin in her honor–remembering her fierce determination and wondering what she would make of this pandemic. I give thanks that my family was able to fly South the month after she died to share in a time of memorial.
I continually hear about how the pangs of loss in this time have an extra heaviness. There is the inability to gather with hugs and the new formality of masks and distancing. What is already heartbreaking becomes more so with the additional loss of anticipated ritual. I hear from pastors who are muddling through trying to reach out to families in the midst of death and to take the best safety measures for everyone.
Mother’s Day under pre-COVID times is already a mixed day for many. This year, we have the collective grief of all that isn’t. I recommend Brene Brown’s podcast interview with David Kessler. I find myself wanting impossibly to skip ahead to the “meaning making” and find much wisdom in what I hadn’t heard in words: the need for grief to be witnessed:
“Grief must be witnessed. How do we witness it for each other? I am going to witness yours and you will witness mine.”
I enjoyed the Mother’s Day muffins this year. And the homemade cards. And worship. And the sunny afternoon bike ride when things got really cranky at our house. I could see my husband’s fatigue at striving hard to make the day different than our other days. To honor our cumulative exhaustion, we ordered takeout dinner for the first time in quarantine.
And after the kids were asleep, we sat across from each other at a quiet table. We didn’t say much. I taked about missing my grandmother. We talked of the earlier Zoom with his grandmother. We talked about the summer family vacation that won’t be happening with our mothers. We ate pad thai. We witnessed to the grief. We embraced our blessings. Yours, mine, ours. We didn’t try to fast forward. We witnessed it together.