When Mother’s Day Breaks Your Heart

“My hands are empty. There are children running circles round me, but my hands are empty.

I have come to terms with the unthinkable. We have lost again, but is it too much to ask for a souvenir, to want something to grasp and hold tight? I don’t even have a photograph, and this feels too much to bear.

Me with a pile of cameras, lenses, and an iPhone—I didn’t stop time. I was too busy soaking it all in, too busy just being. More than that though, I thought it would last.

I thought I had more time.”

I wrote those words before loss piled up so high I could not see beyond it. I had endured a full-term stillbirth, and then just two months before Mother’s Day I lost a baby at sixteen weeks. I did not know then that I would lose again, at only ten weeks—a loss so early that a camera would not have been able to capture my belly swelling full. Now I know how loss can stand around every corner, how it can make you feel hemmed in from every direction. I know how to weep in the car after leaving the doctor’s office and then drive home to make dinner and quietly tell my children they will not be able to meet the brother or sister that had been growing inside my womb. But I don’t know how to endure another month without a second pink line on the pregnancy test when there are no small footsteps running through the house. I don’t know the pain of sitting by a sick child’s bed or watching them breathe their last.

Loss winds its way into our lives inevitable, but unique. And we women walk wounded and strong. We carry the scars of from laying down our hearts to embrace those we cannot keep. We carry those scars and they are treasures. Our hearts wounded and still beating courageous, speak that we have loved and lost. We have been brave enough give ourselves fully even when the only answer is empty arms.

We women are warriors, and we stand in the flow of time that gives and takes. We stand with strong arms and open hands.

I thought I had more time. I thought if I rooted my feet and opened my heart, a baby would have to take hold. Now I know there is no stopping or rerouting the furious stream of time, moments crash over me, some painful, many joyful. One day there will be more than enough. One day I will embrace my three children flown away, just as I cradle the four within the circle of our home. Until then Christ cares for my little ones, and in this Mother’s Day he holds my heart. A weeping Christ who also bears the scars of loving fierce. A joyful Christ who knows all will be made well one day.

 Sharon McKeeman is a homeschooling mama to three sons and a daughter. She is a Midwestern girl at heart who now lives with her family on the sunny beaches of Southern California, where they enjoy reading together and playing in the surf. She is an author, educator, speaker, and photographer who shares more of her story as @sharonmckeeman on Instagram and at www.sharonmckeeman.com where you will find her blog, Writing in the Dust, as well as her newsletter, Mourning into Joy, which is filled with encouragement and resources for mamas.








One response to “When Mother’s Day Breaks Your Heart”

  1. Sarah Allard Avatar

    What a poignant essay. This resonated with me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing and honoring those that are hurting on Mother’s Day.

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