I know it’s not the intention of the day, but Mother’s Day is tough for me.
Barbara Ann Hashbarger Brogan died in 2005 from lung cancer. She was 76 years old. Death took her years too soon. And I feel this most everyday.
My sisters and I carry much of her with us and in us. Although quiet in a group of folks, there was a mighty presence about Barbara Ann. She was an artist, a painter. Oils were her favorite, but her watercolors were gently powerful. And that woman could rip montaging paper with the best of them.
She taught me of family ~ the rootedness and history, the tending to and watching out for. She taught me of music ~ NPR played 24/7 (before that was even a phrase) in our upstairs bathroom at 3120 Prairie. She taught me of the beauty and power of an Illinois storm ~ she would drive out on those black top roads looking out to the south and west watching (not the road, but) the horizon, or she put her arms around the three of us and cuddle on the couch on our screened porch and feel us into its coming. She taught me of faith ~ hers and her mother’s and the generations that lived before us. Church was as much a part of our lives growing up as was school. She taught me…
…and the truth is there’s so much more I need to learn and I want to know from her. So may “moments” that I yearn to spend with her. Paintings I would like to watch her dream onto the canvas. Popcorn to share at movie. Conversations to share, leaning into her wisdom. Hearing her laugh. Stories from her memory that I would like to hear. Watching her watch the boys growing up. Just having time.
I’m a Bereavement Coordinator with a hospice here in Atlanta. My daily work is listening to stories of families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. My best work is helping them integrate their loved one’s story into their own and step out into what is next for them. I try to help them emotionally prepare for anniversary dates and holidays. Like today. To be intentional about marking the day in ways that invites their hearts to be present (and to not take their heart into a corner and spend the whole day sobbing).
But never, ever do I tell them that it’s easy (or even possible sometimes). There’s nothing that allows for sugar-coating when you’re living into the grief of someone you have loved your whole life. But it is what you do: you live into your grief. Recognizing the tenderness, the mightiness, the constantness of your missing them and stepping out into this day. And with some faith and courage into the next. Carrying them and their memory right there inside your heart. And leaning into the love that continues to share (although not in the way you would best have it) all your days.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.