To all the Mothers with Empty Arms and Grieving Hearts

Some days are easier than others. There are days when the painful throb of a broken heart briefly eases and tears are replaced by small smiles. These are the moments when the world seems a little lighter, a little brighter, and this new form of “normal” appears almost manageable. There are days without questions, “what-if’s” and the heavy weight of a grieving heart. But today is not that day.

Today is Mother’s Day.

Last year, I spent Mother’s Day with four little feet squirming and pressing against my rounded belly. I imagined what this day would look like, what all future Mother’s Day’s would look like.

I dreamed of breakfast in bed, late morning giggles, and bear hugs as we sloshed orange juice on the duvet. I envisioned tickling twenty, tiny toes and kissing the foreheads of two squirmy sons as we planned a family adventure involving ice cream and lots of laughter. There would be the inevitable scrapes and bumps, tears and frustration but those would be gently bandaged and rocked away in mom’s comforting arms.

I knew there would be freshly picked flowers; a bouquet composed mostly of dandelions, daisies and a lot of love. Two pairs of muddy boots would sit in the hall while fistfuls of blossoms would be placed lovingly in a glass vase. I never dreamed that one twin would have to pick them on his own. I never thought that I would be the one laying a bouquet on a grassy, infant sized, grave.

This day is equal parts bitter, equal parts sweet; my first Mothers Day with one baby, my first without the other.

Gazing in from the outside, my arms do not appear empty. They are usually wrapped tightly around a beautiful and delightfully inquisitive, baby boy. I am beyond thankful for this miracle. I hope that my arms will never be unoccupied, that the future will be filled with additional wee ones. But even if my lap is overflowing with curly headed babes, even if my arms are never physically empty, they can never be completely full either.

There will always be a part of me that longs to carry the additional weight of a much loved infant. I miss that little one. I mourn for the baby that never fell asleep in the safety of his mother’s arms, or heard his mother whisper just how much she loved him.

For our family, someone will always be physically missing; a little voice that I will never get to hear, tiny hands that I will never get to hold. But no matter the earthly years that separate us, I will always be his mother. I can think of no sweeter thing than knowing that I carried and protected my son for the entirety of his life.

Achingly, all too many women have experienced the searing pain of a child who is here one day and gone the next. And so, this Mother’s Day is for the women with wombs that no longer carry the trace of a heartbeat; the women with bedrooms containing empty cribs or those who have tricycle’s rusting in the driveway. This Mother’s Day is for the woman whose newborn never gives his first cry or whose child never reaches graduation.

This year, while celebrating the important women in your life, don’t overlook those who have experienced loss. Their arms may be empty but their hearts are not. More than anything, we want our little ones to be remembered. You may only see me with one baby on my hip, but I am the proud mother of two.

While we do not carry out the everyday act of mothering these children, we will never lose our title. For we have been, no matter the length of time, our baby’s mother.

So to all the mothers with empty arms and grieving hearts, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. This day belongs to you, too.

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