I was recently privileged to speak at the 2016 Listen toYour Mother -Burbank show.   I had a moving experience at the cemetery one day, which I wrote down and posted to my blog.   When it came time to audition for Listen To Your Mother, an Ann Imig production, I knew that “Blessings” would be the piece of my heart that I’d risk sharing.  I’m honored to now share my story with you, the community which inspires me to continue exploring my grief.

“Blessings”

For a long time, I thought that Valentine’s Day was a florist’s busiest holiday. I later found out that The busiest day is actually Mother’s Day because not everyone has a sweetheart but everyone has a mother.

That’s true…I never thought about it that way, but it is true.

Now, I recognize that we are all in different places with our mothers, but we all have one…somewhere or…had one, at some time.

I myself am a mother to 4; 3 girls and 1 boy.  I love them all equally and in unique ways. They are all so different, so beautifully different.

My family and I were dropping some flowers off at the cemetery one day last year; we go there often. On this particular day, my youngest, Baby Zoe and I were walking around while I was introducing her to her grandpa and great grandparents, and sharing family stories with her. My older girls were down by the pond with their Dad, my loving husband, feeding the turtles.

I knelt down at a small grave that was decorated with toys and candy and adorned with pinwheels. Through choked back tears, I whispered, “Where are you, Leo?” I got up and kept on walking with Zoe.
As I approached the road, this young boy, around 10 years old, wearing black jeans and a black hoodie with some smart ass comment disguised as the Jack Daniels logo, was walking through the cemetery. He stopped to tell me how cute my baby is. He told me that he remembers when his brother was that small.

This boy, who looked like he was up to no good, reached out to me. I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe he wanted me to write him off based on his looks so he could justify some questionable choices. Maybe he felt vulnerable seeing an adult while he was alone, without the influences of his friends…like he could relax and be himself for a minute. Maybe he thought I looked vulnerable and wanted to take advantage of that or maybe he wanted to comfort me. I didn’t know why he reached out…but he did.  So, I asked how old his brother is now.

The boy stopped in his tracks and at that moment, I knew we connected. He wasn’t expecting me to talk to him or to care about his family but that one simple question lit up his face. He told me his brother was three now. I made a joke about how crazy three year olds can be and we shared a little laugh.

Then, his face grew concerned. I think he realized why I was at the cemetery.

He bravely, albeit hesitantly, asked me if I had a child buried nearby.  “Yes, I do,” I replied.  He was visibly saddened and said, “You know, my mom had a baby when she was 17 and she died, my sister, she died. Then my mom had me at 19.”

With a smile, I explained to him that he was a rainbow baby and he agreed with me. I couldn’t help but stare in wonder at this tender hearted kid who knew what a rainbow baby was.  For those who aren’t familiar, a rainbow baby is a child born after a loss. It could be miscarriage, stillbirth, infant, or child loss. It’s a metaphor for the rainbow after the storm.

I told the boy that he would never understand completely what a true blessing he is to his mom. But, tears filled his eyes and he breathed “yeah, I am.”

Then he asked me about my baby who died. I told him about Leo. About his 26 days with us, about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), about how much we love our son and wish he was still here with us. He put his hands in his pockets and said “that is so sad.” …and I agreed.

Then, I turned Zoe to face him and I said, “here, this is my rainbow. She is my blessing.”  And as tears streamed down his cheeks he said, “God bless you. Seriously, God bless you and your family.” I said it back and, feeling weak, I sat on the memorial bench that we placed in the cemetery near Leo’s grave and cried.

I looked up a minute later and the boy was getting ready to hop the fence headed toward the homes behind the cemetery and I watched him stop to turn and look back at us before he left.

When he was out of sight, I hugged Zoe tight, left a kiss for Leo on his grave, and I could feel, deep in my being, Leo’s energy vibrating. I asked where Leo was, and he brought me a boy whose life was changed by our story, who’s presence changed me.

I am a mother of 4; 3 girls here on Earth and 1 boy, my angel in Heaven.

We all have a mother, we all mean different things to our mothers and our mothers all mean different things to us, but one thing we will never truly know, is what a blessing we can be to our mothers, to someone else’s mother, or how we can be a mother-figure to someone, even if it is only during one interaction.

That’s the real beauty of motherhood, isn’t it? It touches all of us in different ways and we experience it from many perspectives.

Being in community with all of you, sharing so openly, has blessed me. Thank you for being a part of my journey through motherhood.

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