“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” -Washington Irving
The last Mother’s Day that I celebrated with my mom was 23 years ago, just two months before she died. I was 9 years old. I’m sure it was like every Mother’s Day before that one – dad helping us three boys find a meaningful gift for mom, giving her the day off from cleaning, cooking and caring for three little tornadoes, and telling her how much we especially loved and appreciated her.
I’m sure that if we had all known that was the last Mother’s Day we would celebrate with her, we would have planned it for months ahead of time. It would have been filled with words from deep within our hearts to communicate how much we loved and appreciated her, and all the sacrifices she made to give herself away daily – even when she felt she had nothing to give – to show us how much she loved us.
About 10 years after she passed away, I read a Bible verse that changed my life:
“And we can be assured that God works for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28)
Translation: God is the great redeemer. Taking traumatic events and turning them into triumphant ones. Replacing lost opportunities with heavenly opportunities which earth could never procure. I knew I had to turn all of my affection to following this God, the Redeemer. And I did.
Now I sit in my dining room in Jerusalem looking off to my right at my wife snuggling up with my 3 year old daughter on our living room couch. Naomi can’t stop asking me about when we’re going to take mommy out for afternoon tea at a secret location that I have yet to reveal to either of them. I see a little girl who is the recipient of this same fiery affection that my mother gave me for the first 9 years of my life.
And in it all, I am grateful that God redeems. Death stole someone irreplaceable. But God has redeemed what cannot be humanly replaced with what could not be humanly created – a home filled with the love of a mother.
My mother’s memory and life lives on through the middle name of my daughter. She is a constant reminder of the gift my mother’s life was to me, if only for 9 short years. The rest was up to God, and He came through as the Great Redeemer that He is.
I pray today for all those who celebrate Mother’s Day without their mom. May the LORD comfort you and redeem what has been lost! And may your mother’s memory be a blessing in the lineage of your family forever.
(PS, I should note that my step-mom has been an incredible mother to me and my brothers for nearly 20 years. And I celebrate her today with great joy and gratitude!)