Updated: Aug 13, 2019
By Theresa Anthony, author My 13th Station
As I approach this sixth Mother’s Day without my son I can't help but pause and reflect on the abundant joy he gifted me as his mother. Although the last few years of his life were rife with suffering, as his mom I still had many opportunities to share in his triumphs and be proud of his accomplishments—especially because they were so hard won. Every chip he earned in A.A., every amend he made, every effort he expended to restore his health and mental wellness, these were laudable and praiseworthy efforts in my eyes. I was just as honored to be his mother during the tough times as I was through the first wonderful nineteen years of his life.
We moms know no sweeter love than that we have for our children. From the moment these precious little beings are placed into our arms we are smitten; their sweet souls packaged up for us in the form of a living angel. After the methodical process of considering this name or that, we finally decide on the perfect name to attach to this new soul, and it is their name for eternity.
We bring our newborn home and begin the work of mothering. Flying by the seat of our pants, we do our very best to offer our children a decent life, blunders and all. Most mothers sincerely strive to provide their children with a safe, nurturing childhood where they can bloom and grow.
Raising my son and two daughters will remain the most important thing I have ever done with my life. No other achievement, past, present, or future, even comes close to the feeling of purpose and meaning that motherhood has given me. Being a mom is hard—correction—really hard, but the blessings of this unconditional love far outweigh any challenges encountered along the way.
As most moms do, I have held on to each little handmade card my young children had handed me on Mother’s Day, festooned with doodles and stickers, and filled with the colorful scrawling of love and appreciation applied in Crayon or marker. These treasures have become a tangible validation to me all these years later; that I indeed mattered to these three little beings. I was, and will always be, their mother.
Moms seem to be hard-wired to fix things for their kids, to put a bandage on the boo-boo, so to speak. As they get older, those boo boos can become enormous, gaping wounds. Still, a mother's impulse is to help their child. With the gift of hindsight, I can now see the knee jerk “mom” behaviors I engaged in during my son’s final years when he was battling the demons that threatened to steal him from us. I came to learn that there is a word for those heroic measures a mother may resort to while trying to save a child from ruin: Enabling. Although I cringe now at the thought that my interventions and support may have in some way contributed to his remaining stuck in his addiction to alcohol, I also cut myself some slack knowing that what motivated those actions had sprung from pure love.
No one can prepare you for the loss of a child. Just the mere thought of it is something so unfathomable that you don’t dare even consider the horrific possibility. We simply assume that our kids will surely outlive us. To lose your child is just not right; it’s not natural. Our children are not supposed to leave us first. And although a child’s death has a devastating impact on all family members, relatives, and friends, a special sort of sorrow is reserved for the grieving mother. To us it is truly a dagger to the heart.
I still speak my son’s name out loud each and every day, that name so carefully chosen back in 1988. I speak his name when thoughts of him invade my daily routine, prompting me to say 'hi' out loud. I say his name in conversations as often as it feels comfortable, determined not to let his memory die. Most importantly, I pray to God daily, stating my son’s full name -first, middle, and last - while asking for His loving mercy for this beautiful but troubled soul.
As a mother, I am grateful to have a special day that recognizes the big job we do, but I prefer to thank my kids for the honor of being their mom. Whether our child is here with us or residing in heaven, they are ours to thank for the gift of becoming a mother in the first place—and their mother we will always be.
#my13thstation "grief journey", "mothers day", "grief and loss", "loss of child", "dual diagnosis", "suicide", "grieving mother" @my13thstationmemoir