(Written in April 2011)
Perspective. Either the word is overused or, likely, it is underused. Sometimes (for weeks at a time) I don’t think about the “little feet” that are not in my life. Sometime (like this week) I think about it constantly. That is where the perspective thing comes into play. I was with a group of older women. This is the habit lately as I have attended a morning bible study with them for the past 10 weeks or so. They often speak to me as the young woman among them. But, I’m a few months away from my half-century mark. I feel…oldish. They are`60ish or 70ish and have their children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren. MY children are hidden with God. When I answer the inevitable question regarding my family, I sometimes reveal that I’ve got two that are hidden with God. IF I reveal that there is another even more inevitable question: “How far along were you?” For those of us who have miscarried early, there is a moment of clenching fear before we answer that one. We wonder if our hearer will respond with grace; or, we wonder if the hearer will dismiss our losses as an non-event. We might wonder if our hearers will respond with a quick attempt to cover their discomfort by taking hold of this bare revelation and telling it something that will fix the pain between us. My favorite–Can you have others?
Yesterday’s conversation was very different. These older women sought to console me by sharing their stories–their painful stories of children that were heartaches and the pains of motherhood. This was an odd twist. I was going to react with the self-pity that wasn’t present a moment before but which was so glaringly present in my self just then. I felt frustrated with them. Then. Then I had a change in perspective. I realized that my bare revelation had opened a door and they perceived in me an ear that was capable of listening. They weren’t wrong. It is just that it took me a moment to get there. My listening ear was put on a shelf a few months ago and, suddenly, it was being yanked off that shelf to meet the need of grieving mothers. These older women has suffered so much with their losses. One beautiful lady has lost her boy to suicide a few decades ago. Another woman had adopted and had a child who has, thus far, been unable to return this mother’s love. This adopted love-child had entered adulthood in the most self-destructive way and her mother was grieving. Someone close to me has grieved the harshness of her growing children who, sometimes, demand everything and then hurl it back with resentment. The mother grieves.
This is perspective. It is a moment in time where my view from the gallery of life takes a shift and I see things differently.
What is my perspective today? I am a grieving mother who grieves the loss of her children and what could have been. I am, by the sheer grace of God, able to offer an empathetic ear to a grieving mother–or three.
What an odd day! I realized I don’t have to offer even one word of counsel or helpful feedback. There were three phrases that came to me.
“That must have been so painful.”
“You must worry so much.”
“I can’t imagine what that must feel like.”
Thank you, Father, for this gift of grace today.