When my children were little, there were some standard books that we read every night before bed: “Good Night Moon,” “Is Your Mama a Llama?” “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “Are you my Mother?” “The Sleeping House,” and “Blueberries for Sal.” I can recite them all for you now, if you would like.
I can still hear the cadence of the writing, and feel the little body breathing on my chest, as we turned the familiar pages of these weathered books for the 100th time. I can still remember the routine of bath, book, bed; the soft, cotton pajamas and the padded feet. Night time rituals change as children get older. Bed time becomes a requirement, instead of a sacred ritual.
Many of the books I read to my children, are the same stories my mother read to me. I loved when my mom read to me. I loved her voice. I loved the way she curved sentences and how her voice changed with characters. I loved the way she painted pictures in my mind by taking me into a story. When I was little, our favorite books were, “Are You My Mother?” and “Blueberries for Sal.” Later, we would fall in love with “Little House in the Big Woods” and “A Wrinkle in Time.”
As I look back on these stories, and their underlying messages, there is similar message of comfort and safety in each of them, and that is “your mother is always with you,” and “if you are lost, she will pursue you, and until she finds you.” These messages stay with us into our adulthood, and we trust in them like scripture. So it’s a soul-shocking moment when one day our mom isn’t around anymore. We only get one mom, and nobody really believes in us like they do. This Mother’s Day, my heart is heavy for those grieving their mothers.
But here’s the thing about our mothers – they pursue us even after death. The children books we read about the pursing mother, aren’t giving us fall hope. Nothing can separate us from the love of our mothers. They are relentless that way. She’s with you. She’s the voice that reminds you to wear a coat and to mind your manners. She’s the smells of Sunday dinner and clean sheets on the bed. She’s dirt on your hands, as you plant flowers for the spring and the touch of pages of the hymnal as you sing her favorite hymn.
To all of you have lost your Mom’s this year, I know Mother’s Day is going to be really, really hard, and you will want more than anything to see her laugh and let her tell you her opinion on your outfit. I know you will feel like the little bird, looking for his mother. Remember, the mother bird wasn’t really that far off. She was always right where she was supposed to be. I know you might feel lost and frightened, like Sal, but do not worry, she’s not very far off- she’s just on the other side of the mountain.
Close your eyes. See her face. Hear her voice. See, she hasn’t gone far after all.
You are loved, always.