I’ll never forget that night of Christmas Eve 2013. I stood in front of the congregation with the other clergy all holding our candles in the darkened room singing “Silent Night.” I had made it through the service without breaking down, but two lines in the timeless hymn nearly brought me to my knees: “Mother and Child. Sleep in heavenly peace.” The tears streamed down my face and I just hoped that no one other than the person standing next to me was noticing. As we walked down the aisle I tried to wipe off my cheeks. I prayed a silent prayer hoping I could greet people and then go hide out in my office for just a few minutes. Then I tried the best smile that I could muster and began shaking hands, “Merry Christmas. I hope you have a great one.” She approached me with the kindest look on her face. She gave me a hug and simply said, “It’s a hard night and that song — it gets me every time.” And, then, we both began to sob.
Fast forward five months to Mother’s Day. I was headed in the side door of the Sanctuary, honestly hoping to not visit with too many people. She came out of the bathroom door at the same time I was making my beeline. Relieved that it was her, I simply said, “How’s this day for you?” “I hate Mother’s Day,” she said. And I breathed a sigh of relief and once again the tears fell.
My son Max was stillborn in March of 2013. Her son died due to suicide. Two different stories, but the mutual understanding of grief and the loss of dreams and hopes and a future are held in common. Mother’s Day is a hard day for me; in fact it is one of the hardest days of the year. And I know that with all of its commercialization and advertisement it is hard for many of you too. For those of you like me who have had to bury your children, for those of you who have always wanted to have children of your own but were unable to, for all those who struggle with infertility, for those of you who have gone to great lengths to adopt just to have it all fall through: I want you to know that your pain is not missed on this day. I know the silent tears that you cry, I know of the times that you retreat to the bathroom to let your true emotions show, I know that even though there is a smile on your face a piece of your heart is broken. You are not alone on this day. You are not forgotten on this day. I wish with all my heart that life was not as hard as it is and that the pain was not so deep, but please know that it is because we love deeply that we also experience the sadness and pain.
We are so incredibly blessed to worship in a church and be a part of a community that desires to sit with us in the midst of the pain and offer the light of hope and companionship on this journey. There is a deep and abiding bond shared between those who know this kind of loss. We invite you to join us on May 11 in the Chapel for a special time of community, Communion, and prayer as we gather for the service Prayers for Children Lost and Longed For. And, as we once again are reminded that death never has the final word, love always wins and we are never alone.