Friday, May 11, 2012

A Difficult Day

I was a young mom who thought, by virtue of having gone to college, that I knew what to do with a newborn. Or at least could read a book and figure out how to do it right. Of course, the first few weeks of motherhood quickly cured me of that delusion. In one of my many calls to the hospital help line, I was told about a support group that met once a week at the hospital.

I showed up that first Tuesday morning and out of my insecurities judged some of the other moms I saw; she's got money, she's kind of earthy-crunchy, she's got a tattoo. What I did not know then, but would soon greatly appreciate, was the life line those moms were. We came from different backgrounds, but we bonded over the same desire: to be good moms, to do right by our children. We would meet every week and share our triumphs and our challenges. We would trade whatever knowledge and information we had found, encourage each other in what ever way we could. But the critical part of this group was not the tips, tricks or advice. It was the simple knowledge that we were not alone.

Most of our conversations might have seemed superficial to an outside observer, but what we were communicating to each other was that we were not alone in our struggles. We were telling each other there were other moms who were just as insecure, but just as eager to learn and grow. I'm sure the other ladies would agree that this group helped us be better moms to our children, and I think I became a better person.

Over time, we grew more confident in our abilities, our children grew up and some of us had more babies. As a result, we drifted apart from each other. I do not mourn this as a loss because I realize there are seasons in life. We are not always able to keep things the way we'd want it to be forever, and this is a good and necessary thing. This is important to note: just because that season has passed and my need to meet with these ladies waned, they are not any less significant to my life. I am grateful for those ladies who helped me through the first years of motherhood.

So it was with great sadness that I learned of the death of one of the moms. Heather was the one with the tattoo. While I thought this was odd at first, as I got to know Heather, I appreciated her outlook on life. She was witty, she was artistic, she was compassionate and kind. We got together a few times after the moms' group stopped meeting and I always enjoyed our conversations. What I didn't know was the emotional pain she endured that led her to take her own life.

This is what I struggle with. I am sad she's gone, that she suffered for so long and so greatly that she ended things this way. My heart grieves for her husband and her children faced with living without this most vibrant wife and mother. Yet I am frustrated as well. Because, like when I was a new mom, there are things I cannot grasp. I read this comment today: "Having the courage to endure childbirth is probably more courage than many, if not most, men have." Heather was that kind of brave. She traveled the world. She thought nothing of moving to a new house. If there was a new hobby or interest, she pursued it with gusto. Yet she despaired, and I cannot fathom a despair that would lead someone to turn that kind of courage towards ending their life. In doing so, she left behind three beautiful children and a husband who loved her so. They will sit shiva on Mother's Day.

The officiant at her memorial said that there are some things in life we will never understand, some knowledge that will never be ours to grasp. Though this frustrates and saddens me, I will accept this about you, Heather. But my deep, deep hope will remain that, somehow, you will know how much you are loved and how much you will be missed.