The bond between mother and child is well nigh unbreakable. I know that some mothers have abused, neglected and abandoned children, and I don't want to downplay your pain. But for myself, I can say that I have never felt any loss as great as the deliberate death of my only daughter.
Two things I read this week echoed that sense of loss for me.
In a new book, Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott, she talks about teaching her teenage son to drive. I don't have the book with me (it's an audio book I'm listening to at work), so I can't quote her exactly. But she said how she has never loved anyone so much, or invested in anyone else as much, as she had her son. And at that moment in time, she felt like in spite of all her love and care and effort, she had failed him completely.
Oh, boy, do I relate. I suspect most mothers can. I poured myself into Jolene, trying without success to fill the void created by Borderline Personality Disorder, pointing her to the only One who could fill that hole. In the end, at that dreadful moment in time, it wasn't enough.
At least Anne's son is still alive. But for both of us, we trust God's grace to see us through those soul-crunching moments when we doubt our talent at the most important job we will ever have.
The other book was a sweet romance, based on a true story, written over 50 years ago. Mrs. Mike. A young 16 year old girl marries a Canadian Mountie and makes a home with him in the far north. They face many hardships, but the one that nearly tears them apart is the death, by diptheria, of their two small children.
I read the story, and didn't immediately consider the implications for my own life. Until I stared at the "Smash, Sizzle, Savor" logos on the wall of Smashburger, and sighed "Oh, Jolene." Tears came unbidden, unexpected, to my eyes.
My first book, Romanian Rhapsody, tells the story of a father who lost his son during childbirth. How could I know that the grief I wrote of with such power would become reality in my own life?
Love makes us vulnerable. The love between mother and child cuts the closest to our inmost being. Loving Jolene left me open to the pain of her death.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.