Mother’s Day is one of my most challenging holidays. As it is getting closer to my second year without my son, I want to share as part of my healing. I also want to reframe this day in honor of my son, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren because I would not have made it this far without their support, encouragement, and love. My girls and their husbands support me and continue encouraging me to press on. I had to fight for my freedom and break the cycle of abuse from my family two years ago. I wasn’t the only one suffering from domestic violence; it was passed down from generation to generation, and the Lord was leading me all along.
It was the week of Mother’s Day, and Friday, May 7th, 2021, I graduated from Arizona Christain University. My mother was so excited to stay the weekend with us and sit in the front row to watch me receive my diploma; I was the first in my family to graduate high school (GED) and now from a University. However, My children went before me, but to my mom, I was the first. Of course, we don’t argue with our elderly moms, right? I went to community college in 2012 to obtain a Social Work degree. Community college is a two-year college; I was there for four years. I believed I was stupid because my ex treated me as though I could not learn, and subtly, he would say things that made me wonder if I had a brain. For example, I sang The Wizard of Oz song, “If I only had a brain!” Other times, he convinced others and me that I had some learning disability. I began to believe I couldn’t learn; however, a friend unknowingly countered his words with the word of truth. I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking life over me through her. She reminded me of our youth and my good grades in school. I was also inducted into the honors society. I thought they must have made some mistake. However, the more I studied mental health, behavioral health, mental illness, and the effects of abuse, the more I realized I was suffering from brain fog, cognitive dissonance, and the like. Later I learned it was not a disability but domestic violence.
My sister and I worked hard the whole week, prepping and planning my graduation lunch. I wasn’t planning a party; I just wanted a few friends and family to come for lunch and share the beautiful graduation cake my client made for me. She even delivered it to my home; she was so excited for me and offered to make me one of her specialty cakes as a gift. Everything seemed to be going smoothly except for the usual sabotage I came accustomed to from my ex. Jesus told me to do things in secret. I was learning in secret, planning in secret, and building in secret. Psychology calls it grey rocking. Returning to school, my counseling and the Bible taught me to recognize when I was in enemy territory, unhealthy patterns, and “Stay Well” in abusive situations. I managed to dodge every arrow he threw my way by the leading of the Holy Spirit while living in my abusive situation. The Lord also brought my sister and brother-in-Iaw to live with us for a time; later, we discovered they were the ones the Lord used to get me safely out. I almost did not attend the graduation, but I decided to give God the glory for this, and no one would steal it, not this time. I also wanted to share this celebration with those who supported me with prayers and encouragement because school was a struggle. I had poor health because of stress and several surgeries. I worked full-time with children with special needs and cleaned houses on the weekends by the Grace of God, and I was not going to allow my ex to steal this glorious day from the Lord, my children, and their offspring.
By the grace of God, I proudly walked the stage to receive my degree; I laughed out loud because I heard the song in my head, “If I only had a brain!”. My son was there; he cheered me on. When he was proud of me, he would stand tall and say, yeah, that’s my mom! The week leading to this day was traumatic for me. As my younger sister and I planned my graduation dinner, my ex was working behind the scenes to prevent me from receiving this well-earned degree and stealing this precious gift the Lord gave me. My son died five months later; the Lord gave me this gift of time with my son.
While talking to my sister about this day after he died, she told me that my son was all over the place taking pictures; she said he was so proud of me. I reminded her of when I obtained my GED when he was three. I had graduated from Maricopa Skill Center, and a guy friend brought me some yellow roses. My parents drove up simultaneously, and my son was so excited he ran out of our apartment screaming, my mommy got her vd, my mommy got her vd!” We laughed so hard that we both said he was with us.
I also pondered when he used to tell me that he made me a mommy first. One day, when he was older, he asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day; he didn’t know what to buy for me. I told him the best gift he could give me was to go church with me on Mother’s Day. So he did, he snored through every sermon, but I didn’t care. My son was with me, and that made me happy.
I’m not some super spiritual person who has all the answers. Some days I feel like I can scale a mountain; others, I have a meltdown. I feel shame for not having it all together, but then I remember I am human; I am not God, and He comforts me all over again, as He has done in the past. This Mother’s Day, I pray for all the Grieving Mothers; I pray the God of comfort comforts you all with sweet memories of your loved ones. May you laugh aloud as you remember those funny words they blurted out. And may you permit yourself to cry and be comforted.