On Mothers Day this year, my family all went to church together. And by all, I mean most: my dad, brother, sister, sister-in-law, me and all six of our collective kids (ages 5, 2, 2, 2, 1 and 7 months). My dad couldn’t have been prouder to show off his crew, and I noticed many amused smiles as we filed into our row, each adult carrying one or two children. As the mass began and I looked around at my wiggly, wonderful family, I smiled to myself. We must be such a spectacle, I thought; everyone must be looking at us.
At that moment, I flashed back to another scene of my life, almost 12 years prior. We were waiting at the airport the morning of June 7, 2001, the day my mother died. We were waiting for my sister’s plane to arrive. Waiting to break her heart. I don’t know how I stayed on my feet.
When she got off the plane and saw us, her first instinct was to smile. But then I saw her face fall, with recognition. As she walked toward us in slow motion, her jaw hardened, bracing herself. I don’t think we even said anything as she approached us. We just folded her into our arms, and sobbed together, holding each other up.
I remember having a short out-of-body experience at that moment. I envisioned us standing there, on a weekday morning, in the middle of O’Hare airport. I watched all the people just going about their day, walking around us, witnessing our pain.
We must be such a spectacle, I thought. Everyone must be looking at us.
What time and God and life and the guidance of my sweet mother have done since then. Joy has been created out of agony. Hope out of despair. Abundance out of brokenness. That day, we were four. By the end of this year, we will be 15. If there is ever a reason for faith, this is it.
Three years ago today, I was awoken by a text message that said, “Today is baby day!” Several hours later, my Godson was born, on the ninth anniversary of my mother’s death. In the same hospital where she died. See what happened there? Our narrative changed. His birth didn’t erase the past, but it grew the story. Where there once was darkness, now there was light. Of all the things I’ve learned in the last 12 years, this is among the most important. Things don’t stay the same. For better or for worse. There is always more to come.