Sunday is Mother’s Day, it is also the birthday of my oldest son, Brandon. This will be the third Mother’s day and the third birthday since he passed away in 2010. He would be 24 this year. It is impossible for me to even write those words without becoming very emotional. And by emotional I mean, start crying with tears streaming down my face in an emotional exodus away from the burning in my heart that arrived the day he died. But with a skill I have honed over the last three and a half years, I will take a deep breath, wipe the tears and take another step forward.
It doesn’t feel like it should be this hard. Perhaps because two days later on the 14th his younger brother, Daniel, will turn 21 – the same age as Brandon was when he died. It is a milestone intellectually I knew would happen, but my heart hasn’t accepted it. In birth order and in my heart Brandon should always be the oldest, so for Daniel to surpass him seems incredibly un-natural…almost as un-natural as out living your child.
We are heading to Moab, Utah for the next five days. As a person who embraces the concept of ‘running away’ I somehow always choose to honor these milestones by leaving my regular routine and getting away. In Moab I will be surrounded by the people who have walked this journey with me step by step, shoulder to shoulder. In addition to Scott, Daniel, Jason and Sam I am so honored to have my friend Beth come too. These are truly the people who really get it. And I will surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape in the world. Getting into nature has always been the best way to soothe my soul. Not that loosing Brandon will ever make sense to me, but somehow seeing that Mother Nature survives the cycles of birth, life and death so beautifully and with such grace makes it real to me that I too can do this with grace.
Gratitude has become my ‘go-to’ coping skill to get me past these unwanted milestones, so here goes my gratitude to get me through the next few days.
Because I got to be Brandon’s Mom I learned…. warm milk with a little honey makes you sleep better, checkers are a great way to connect, smile-a big smile that lights up your eyes, follow your dreams, wear your heart on your sleeve-even if it hurts it’s worth it, be loyal, be generous, be a goofy dork sometimes, quit worrying what people thing about you, have boundaries, choose your friends wisely, take risks, have integrity, love-love-love and love some more.
Mother’s Day will never be the same for me and that is true for many Mothers like me. We don’t get to choose these things that happen in our lives, but we choose if we will embrace it with the same grace and beauty of Mother Nature or if we will turn to concrete.
Paula Stephens, M.A
Professor, Well-Life Coach, Yogini, Retreat Captain (think Thelma & Louise meet Indiana Jones, but without the snakes). Paula is the mother of four boys and takes advantage of the the excitement they add to her life by joining in whenever it won’t risk her breaking something.