Photography by Johnny Navarro

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Mother's Day & Mourning

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As I sat in a hospital room with a pregnant wife and an ill mother in law, I pondered the cosmic, poetic weight of that moment. What I was unable to grasp was the impact this moment would have on our family in the coming years. My wife was 6 months pregnant, embarking on her journey into motherhood, and about to lose a pillar, a light that would help guide her through.

Below are some reflections from my wife on Mother's Day and mourning. To anyone who has lost a mother, we hope this brings you some comfort and healing, as it has for us.

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From Jenylee:

I never thought that my life could change so dramatically in such a short period of time, I didn’t see it coming. I was pregnant with my first child, and what should have been a time of celebration turned into a time of mourning and deep sorrow. My mother had been sick for some time, but in the past months her health had deteriorated rapidly. She passed away in December 2012, three months before her first granddaughter was born. It was a devastating time for me and I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know what to think, what to feel, how to act. Should I be joyful? My baby is almost here. Should I be depressed? I won’t be able to share this moment with my mom. Should I grieve? What if my hurt, my pain, my tears hurt the baby? I was in a fog, unsure of how to feel or what to do.

Three months later I’m holding my newborn daughter, staring at her face saying to myself,

“you look just like my mom”

She still does, she reminds me of her often. She has her skin tone, and the shape of her lips. She makes her same angry faces. She’s social and outgoing just like my mom was, making friends wherever we go. When I see these things I'm reminded that she’s still here, her imprint left on generations to come.

Hailey with her Grandma's shell, listening for the ocean.

Hailey with her Grandma's shell, listening for the ocean.

I still wish she were here to experience this with me.

Isn’t that what mothers do? Raise their children, watch their children have children and guide them through life? But not for me. Instead I’m left wondering who can I talk to? Who can I confide in? Who do I send these cute pictures to? Who can I call in the middle of the night when I'm unsure of what to do with something so new? 

I’ve learned that motherhood is a different experience for everyone. For me, it’s been raising my girls without my own mom to guide me. It’s staying strong in the midst of pain and loss, praying that my own children will never experience this pain. It’s a lot of mourning and slow healing, a lot of wishing my mom was here. It’s going through my journey without mom to mom conversations. It’s fighting through emotions to take care of my own daughters. It’s a journey of ups and downs, of mixed emotions on motherhood. I miss my mom.

Mother’s Day is a day for me to be proud of making it through another year. A reminder from my girls that I am doing an amazing job. I am strong and I’m making it through. I know I can do this but, Mom, I wish you were here to be proud with me. I wish you were here to see how the girls are and tell me where they get their personalities from. I wish you were here to be happy with me because of what I’ve accomplished as a mom, and to teach me the things I haven’t figured out yet. I wish you were here to celebrate this day with me.

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