Saturday, May 08, 2010

What If I'd Known?

No one told me that this picture, taken after running a 5k with my daughters the day before Mother's Day two years ago, was prophetic. This photo seemed incomplete at the time, as Joey had not yet arrived for our graduation celebration. No one told me that in twelve days, Joey would never again appear in our family photos.

No one told me when these poorly focussed pictures were taken, pictures ordinarily destined for the delete button, that they would become precious to me. Here Joey is wearing his favorite shirt, the one I wrapped myself in 12 days later, the one that carries my tears...the one I take out of the plastic bag it's wrapped in to preserve his scent so I can smell him one more time.

No one told me that I would never have this kind of carefree Mother's Day, ever again. Breakfast by the pool with my son, and with those I love the most in all the world, naive to the coming heartbreak and life-shattering grief.

As I rode this trolley back to my hotel, tired and cradling my over-tired grandchildren, I was struck with an intense wave of separation anxiety for Joey. He was on a plane back to Maui and I was still in Honolulu. I was surprised by its ferocity, and wondered why I was feeling it and tried to make it go away. Were the demons taunting me or were the angels warning me? Or was I just being a mother?
No one told me it was only the beginning and that the term "separation anxiety" barely begins to describe it.

This awkward photo seems full of warnings too...our ignorance and Joey's somber face haunt me. We seem so unaware and he seems so alone. What would I have done differently if I'd known?
Hold on and never let go. Cripple him in my clutches.

If I'd known it was our last few days together in this life, we would never have had this last great joy-filled laugh together--this moment of celebration that foreshadows one still to come far away in another world.

I long for this moment and sometimes feel as if my heart will break out of my chest and run away from me to get there.

I guess I'm thankful I didn't know. I needed these precious days, these memories, unfettered by my reckless and futile efforts to control the story.
Life just happened...
and inside the aching pain and the mystery, I trust there's a meaning that will be revealed.

God, be near, and Happy Mother's Day to me.

10 comments:

Robin said...

Karen, Happy Mother's Day to you - a woman with three beautiful children, with gorgeous grandchildren, and with a heart full of ache and longing.

I wish had something eloquent to say, but on Mother's day as on every day, I stand in awe at the depth and breadth of the loss.

Many hugs and much love.

Jenny said...

How I know those same feelings. I have lots of things, that looking back, make me know that God was preparing me, but I would never have wanted to know.

Beautifully written, as always. The tears are flowing this morning for you, for me, and for every other mother who has to share in our sorrow.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day, Karen. For all of the ways you have loved on and nurtured us over the years...that He will fill you with and abundance of His love and that you will know His care on your special day.

Anna Flowergardengirl™ said...

I'm so sorry Karen. No one carries a heavier heart than someone who has lost a child. That is an honor to your living children. They must know how much they are cherished. Everyone should feel such love--and you are so good at it. You are a good momma--always--for everyone.

holding your heart in mine....

a Maui Blog said...

"what if you've know?" tough question. no answer. I agree with you that there's probably be no laughter shared in those few days before, had you known....


"... and when my heart is overwhlemed, lead me to the Rock, that is higher than I .... that is higher than I".

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you on this day.

Anonymous said...

You know how we are on this very special day. You know we will always doubt no matter what! You know I knew and left me full of doubt of what I should have and could have done more. No my precious dear friend it really is what God allowed and it breaks all our hearts. I love you very much Sharon. I LOVED your words and I LOVED your pictures, they keep me going. I love your dear friend, Sharonbrapo

Daisy said...

((((Karen))))

Yesterday, I thought of you and a few others for whom Mother's Day is difficult.

Mich

karen gerstenberger said...

Yes, indeed. You express yourself so beautifully. Sending love to you.

Marina said...

Karen;
I often think the same thing about Joey, what if I had known. We had just gotten in from a trip back East, our plane had turned back and we ended up flying back to Maui in the middle of the night. Because of that we decided not to go to church that Sunday. I have always regretted that decision. Maybe we would have gotten to see Joey that Sunday if we were there. I have wished many times that we went I really would have loved to see Joey. I loved Joey, his heart, his spirit, his smile and it makes me sad that I missed out on seeing him one last time.
I love you Karen and I'm praying for you.
Marina