Sunday, 8 May 2016

April showers bring . . .



Memory is a weird thing . . . so are emotions.  The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.”  But, when May rolls around every year, I kind of feel that April showers don’t bring May flowers . . . they bring May mud (I know it doesn’t quite rhyme, but mercy abounds for those of us who are not poets).  May is the month my family and I remember my sister Maria, as it holds both her birthday, the day she left earth for eternity . . . and today, Mother’s Day.

I woke up today to the noise of my tiniest ready for breakfast, and as I rolled over to hop out of bed, I found my oldest snuggled up next to me.  I guess I was so tired last night that I didn’t even notice her sneak into our bed in the middle of the night.  I started my day with a heart and home full; however, there was a little unsettled part in my heart knowing that many women dread the silence they awaken to on Mother’s Day.  My own mother’s home will be full of laughter today as we all gather to celebrate her, but she will feel the uneasiness one senses when waiting for the last of the party to arrive before commencing a celebration.  Today, for so many, is like a megaphone to the silence; a spotlight on the empty spaces.  If you find yourself there today, bracing for all the smiling photos that will flood your Instagram feed, prayers for peace and grace abound. 

I had an experience the other day in which my own uneasy feelings about the month of May and God’s goodness collided.  My preschool aged daughter, Eiley, thoroughly enjoys school days.  She’s a social butterfly and quite keen on learning.  I am convinced, however, that her affinity for school has something to do with wardrobe, as she is allowed to wear one of her “fancy dresses” reserved normally for school or church.  This past week, she pulled a polka dot dress off a hanger and brought it to me.  It’s a dress that has been hanging in her closet for sometime, but until this week, it’s always been too big.  I’ve never really wanted it to fit her anyway.  It is a dress that belonged to Maria.    


I can’t quite put into words what I felt seeing my daughter in that dress.  I was uneasy at first – could I really feel happy looking at that dress?  But with the smile beaming across my daughter’s face, how could I not be full of joy?  And yet, she was in a dress that represented such a deep sadness for me.  All of these emotions were colliding, but somehow in that moment, a little bit of peace enveloped me.  “God,” I thought, “You even breathe new life into little polka dot dresses.” 


My mind knows that newness of life is at work in roots buried deep underground, but my heart feels the messiness of the topsoil.  There’s a piece of me, the “I want to fix it” part, that tends to rush past the mud to celebrate spring’s new bulbs.  But, my heart tells me there’s something for me, and for you, that can only be found in the mud.  I suspect May will always be a “muddy month” of sorts for me.  Maybe you feel that Mother’s Day will always be "Muddy Day" for you.  We’re all traversing the human journey together, and I don’t think muddy should be avoided (or necessarily can be, for that matter).  This month feels messy, but it serves as a prophetic reminder of the kingdom coming in which God will make all things new.  The month of May reminds me of my own vulnerability, of my own mortality, and compels me to journey with others - broken by sin but enfolded in God’s great mercy - toward heaven’s eternal shore. 

Will you join me?

53 comments:

  1. I'll be the first to comment and tell you that this is a beautifully written piece of wonderful! I love you and am glad that the Chapmans are making mud pies together these years while we wait for the coming final Spring where mud is erased from our vocabulary.

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    1. Beautifully written! May 1st 2015 my 13yrs old daughter died, her birthday is May 21st so I understand how difficult spring is! This year has been extremely hard on my family! Praying for you all! I love the polka dot dress!! God bless you all

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    2. Beautifully written! May 1st 2015 my 13yrs old daughter died, her birthday is May 21st so I understand how difficult spring is! This year has been extremely hard on my family! Praying for you all! I love the polka dot dress!! God bless you all

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    3. Beautiful! Our 3 year old died in a tragic accident as well. This was my 2nd mother's day without her. Some days with reminders stamped on them will just always be hard. Thanks for looking for God stamp in yours...

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    4. Beautiful! Our 3 year old died in a tragic accident as well. This was my 2nd mother's day without her. Some days with reminders stamped on them will just always be hard. Thanks for looking for God stamp in yours...

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    5. These words, cut straight to my heart. May is my least favorite month. We lost our son almost 2 years ago, it is hard to celebrate Mothers Day, my Birthday, and our first date. Josh died on Memorial weekend (our first date) now it is just a day to us. I do find peace, but I have to dig in the mud to find joy. Thank you for these words, they are so honest and true.

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    6. Mother's Day is always bittersweet for me...I celebrate the day that God gifted me with 2 beautiful children. I feel His Perfect Peace, Grace and Redemption as I watch them grow. When I visit my own mom...there are tears and regrets intermingled with forgiveness for a lost childhood due to dysfunction and addiction. I come full circle on that special day, knowing He has restored what was broken.

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    7. Thanks for writing truth. Thanks for gospel-loaded reality. The very good news about Jesus is itself loaded with the same kind of tension that we wrestle with in loss. Thanks for reminding us that it's ok to grieve and re-grieve as we wait for the Perfector of all things, who is himself, our peace.

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    8. Thanks to Mary Beth for sharing this on Steven's facebook. And thank you Emily for writing such truth in a very touching way. I went on facebook to read encouraging things from other christians on their journey with God and yours is very touching. Though we don't know each other I have been praying for your family and I pray for all this people here that go or went through hard times. May God give you his peace above all understanding and a trust that He is with you in every circumstance. Marieke

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  2. Beautiful Emily. I always think of you in May. -Keely

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  3. What a lovely way to express it. Thank you for your honesty & vulnerability. x

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  4. Rochelle Stark8 May 2016 at 08:32

    Truly beautiful. I have a very hard time each Motger's Day because I've sadly reached the realization that, short of a miracle, I won't ever raise a child of my own. I'm 43, never married (despite a lifelong deep desire to be; apparently God had other plans), chronically ill and currently unable to work (so single parent foster/adoption isn't feasible), living in another country than my own mother, and crushed deeply in my spirit by all that life has entailed thus far. I usually skip church on this day, but I'm trying to drag myself there today.

    Thank you for the reminder that there are lots of other people hurting and grieving today as well. May God minister grace, mercy, and healing to our aching hearts today.

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    1. Rochelle, I understand your pain... I usually skip church too today since my godly mother went to be with her Lord and Savior 16 years ago and left quite the hole in my heart. I'm also not a mother who has had the desire but it's never happened and I too have a desire to foster/adopt but with my husband now that's not going to be. I want you to know God does have plans for you and me (Jeremiah 29:11) and they are for our good and His glory. They may not be our plans (Isaiah 55:8) but if we rest, trust and hope in our ever-faithful Father we will be satisfied/fulfilled. I know this from personal experience! My heart goes out to you today especially, know I'm sending a virtual hug to you and thinking/praying/remembering you throughout today. ~ Maureen

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  5. Wow! So beautiful and rings true loud and clear. Thank you for writing this. I have been praying for your family, and still grieve with you since Maria went to be with Jesus. Your family means so much to me. Each one of you. May you know the Father's presence and peace on this muddy day. BE blessed.
    Chandy Colley
    Ps. You are a wonderful writer.

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  6. Beautiful, beautiful.
    I needed to read that today.
    Thank you.

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  7. I know these are tough emotions to share publicly. I appreciate your willingness to share the pain and the healing that is so evident when we look for it. Thank you.

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  8. Maria is always going to want you to SEE God's glory. Especially during the month of May!! I feel like she will be showing you these amazing gifts until you are with her again.

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  9. I know this day in one way is so hard for you. God has used you to help a lot of moms who have lost children. And yes even a polka dot dress with a beautiful little girl with an enormous smile can bring love back into your heart and let you know that you will see Maria again and I know she would be proud for Emily to be wearing her dress. Happy Mother's Day and may God bless you, give you peace and continue using you to help other.

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  10. Beautifully written. I join with you in not shirking the muddiness of this world in favor of a clinical and unfeeling separation from that which fills life with color -- mud and all. May the glimpses we get of eternity embolden us to share freely from the muddy trenches and continually turn our gazes on the One who sees and has compassion over it all.

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing. September is my "muddy month". We lost the little one who first taught me what it means to be mom nearly 4 years ago. We've come full circle again with our biological daughter of 2 years and now our adopted son of 1 year who shares the syndrome that our sweet little flower had. Even though my heart is overflowing, it still needs to navigate it's way through the mud, especially today...and September. But God's grace allows us to see these glimpses of eternity even while we are still caught up in earth's reality. Lots of love from another "muddy" mother xxx

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  12. this is beautiful emily, thanks for sharing it. enjoy your days with your sweet little girls (and tanner too). love you!

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  13. I, too, approach the month of May with prayers for those who aren't mothers (biologically) and must face the pre-Mother's day commercialization and celebrations at home and at church. It is a favorite holiday of mine, because I can celebrate the mothers in my family, but miss my Mammaw and other special moms that I was blessed to know. The Chapman family is always in my prayers and especially this month. There is absolutely no way I can imagine the sadness, pain and loss you experienced and still feel today. But, the joy of knowing Maria, having her for a time and then knowing you will "SEE" her again should give some comfort and hopefully, put a smile on your face. She was a special little girl and her legacy lives on through her family and friends. Thanks for sharing this piece - Love you!

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  14. Thank you - My son and mother both died 3 months apart so this day is full of mixed emotions. Beautifully written.

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  15. I think of and pray for your family often and pray for you. May is muddy for our family as well for the loses of family members as well. Your words today are precious and beautifully said. Thank you for sharing your heart. Much love in Christ

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  16. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing.

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  17. Emily, that was so beautiful. Shedding tears for you all today, and longing for that soon-coming day when Spring arrives and never leaves. Much love to you and yours for all your days.

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  18. This was beautifully expressed. Hope, sadness, joy and sorrow all mixed together as a healthy soil is mixed to bring a flower brilliantly adorned like the flowers that were dressed better than Solomon. Thank you Emily. I think of your family every year at this time. Thanks for letting me know that my soil is just as blessed as your soil. The Lord's grace falls on everyone's dirt.

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  19. Emily...beautiful words from a beautiful girl turned woman and mom. I actually remember Maria wearing that dress. March is the muddy month for my family and it has been 35 years since I celebrated Mother's day with my mom. You and your family have been blessings to me over the years. Love and prayers, Jo Little

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  20. Emily...beautiful words from a beautiful girl turned woman and mom. I actually remember Maria wearing that dress. March is the muddy month for my family and it has been 35 years since I celebrated Mother's day with my mom. You and your family have been blessings to me over the years. Love and prayers, Jo Little

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  21. Thank you for opening up your heart and sharing such a deep personal pain. You wrote a message to so many who also grieve and in sharing feel less alone even as we are covered in our own mud. Thank you. God bless to you and yours this day.

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  22. Your family is loved and prayed for, even 8 years later. It was an honor to hear your Dad sing last night in Cincinnati, despite the pain. Much love to all of you.

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  23. May is a muddy month for me also. My firstborn, Nicole was born sleeping May 14, 1992. My second child was born Aug. 19, 1993 and it was difficult to use the things for her that were meant for Nicole. Even though it's been 24 years, I still have difficulties with the memories in this month. Thank you for sharing your grief and your memories.

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  24. We all have a story to tell. Thanks for letting us be a small part of yours. I mean that literally. One side of our refrigerator is exposed as you walk into our kitchen. It is literally covered with photos in magnetic frames. Our family, friends, children, grandchildren and sponsored children and even some of our 4 legged family members of the equine and canine kind. In the middle of those photos is Maria's picture on the postcard your family sent out as a thank you to all those who reached out to you during a really heart-wrenching time. I keep it there with my own special photos because it's a reminder to me of love, hope, faith and my own story...similar to yours. God bless to you and your family and Happy Mother's Day.

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  25. So true...muddy might not be pretty, but it's necessary and real, and God is a huge part of it.

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  26. Beautiful, thank you for sharing! This Mother's Day feels muddy in our house, too. Thank you for the reminder that we are looking forward to a time when God will restore and redeem it all.

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  27. Thank you Emily for your honest heart and for speaking to the "mud" that fills my heart every Mother's Day. My Mom died from cancer when I was 16, and then 7 years later my oldest sister Lindsey passed away from a routine gall bladder surgery. Lindsey was just 29, died on April 14,2008. Leaving sons ( my nephews whom we took care of for right after her death for 6months before their Dad took them back) at the time 7 year old Alex and 9 month old Jamison. Less than a month later your family experienced the loss of Maria. ive always loved your Dad's music but as we saw your family going through an instant loss on our tv and computer screens, we found that instant loss in our lives and became even more connected to his music and you have said what it is to experience loss so beautifully.
    This loss, hurts so bad that it is something we live with everyday. But God does bring beauty from the ashes. I know He holds me and is there for me and I can not wait until one day everything will be made new and we will see Jesus face to face.
    I wrote something done a few months ago that you might feel is true of your journey through loss. It's called Blanket of Loss.


    Sitting here, a new day has begun.
    It is beginning without you.
    Yet the thoughts of you fill my heart and mind.
    It's been so long yet sometimes feels just like yesterday.
    The memories play in my mind like a movie trailer.
    Your life, my life, and our lives together.
    The joy, the tears, and the words we shared.

    Through all of this my feet haven't even touched the floor.
    The world calls to me, asking, no demanding me to keep going...
    Demands of this life don't stop, just like the longing to have you in my day to day life don't stop.

    The loss of you ways heavy on my chest.
    The only way to explain this feeling is that it is a blanket.
    The death of a loved one is like a heavy unwanted blanket.
    You know you have to push forward, keep moving. Be the best you possible.

    Knowing the you that once was is no longer, and in its place is this blanket. Unforgiving and it lingers and places a hold on you.
    No matter where you go or what you do. The blanket remains.
    You can't shake the feeling. Some days are better than others.
    The blanket remains.

    The blanket of loss caused by the death of someone you love, is a feeling you can't out run.
    It is there. You feel it.
    The blanket remains.

    It is a heaviness I never asked for.
    Yet it is one I am destined to live with.
    The only way to handle this blanket is with taking it a day at a time.
    The blanket remains.

    They say God doesn't give you more than you can handle. I think God gives you tools to handle whatever life may bring to you.
    The blanket remains.

    One day when we reach our end, the heaviness of this world, the blankets of loss, will be taken off by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    The blanket will be replaced.

    Until then Heavenly Father, help me to grieve when I need to grieve.
    Help me to push forward when I need to push forward.
    Help me to help ease the blanket of loss for others.
    You are my King, and you are worthy to be praised! I will love and praise you until my life's end.
    (Mom not a day goes by that I don't feel the loss of you. I want to make you proud, but you don't know what it's like. Living without your love, guidance, laughter, and warmth. Life hasn't and will never be the same as it once was. I love you and miss you deeply, until we meet again....)

    Until you see your sweet little sister again, may you know there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are on this journey with you, praying for you, and know what loss feels like. We are not alone...
    God bless you and your family Emily!
    ❤️Erin

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  28. Thank you, Emily, for your beautiful words. I am 55 and married my second husband at age 40. My first was killed in a car accident after only 8 months of marriage...30 years ago. When I remarried at 40, I had already past the point if thinking about kids of my own, but I suffered 4 miscarriages ( 5 babies). I know where my babies are, and I know I will be with them one day, but it leaves a hole in my heart for this earthly life. I also lost my mother 18 years ago, so May is a difficult month for me as I had 3 of my miscarriages in May and my mothers birthday is May 10. Thank you again for reminding me of the beauty God still sends to sustain us here while we await our reunions with our loved ones....you are a blessing...May God bless you and yours this "muddy may ". Lisa Kowalski

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  29. Thank you for writing this. Mother's day is rough for me we lost our older st 7 years ago, although we lost her in September and her birthday is October mothers day is rough too because I only have 2 of my children with me. Again thank you and God bless

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  30. I thought of your family just yesterday as I was cleaning out my desk and I found a postcard I received after sending a note to your parents. It is a postcard with Maria's picture on it. I know that MAY is a hard month for you and your family. I stopped and prayed for your mom and dad right then. So glad that God brought life back to that polka dot dress.

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  31. Oh, Emily! What beautiful words. I hope you can feel the prayers and tears all of us on the outside have prayed and shed on your behalf. God has used you to teach us so much about faith and love and mercy.

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  32. What a beautiful message. This Mother's Day was hard for me, too, seeing all the posts on FB from fathers who helped their children make breakfast in bed for their mothers. You see, my husband died in a tragic accident (also in May - the 17th) 3 years ago. He always helped our boys treat me like a queen on Mother's Day. Again, thank you for your words and I can see by the comments that we all experience muddy times in our lives, but thanks be to God, the Sonshine is on the horizon.

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  33. I can't imagine how hard seeing that dress on her was. I would have had a hard time too. Thinking of you this month, and other months too.

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  34. My oldest was born sleeping on May 21st in 2008. I have 3 other beautiful boys that have born since then, but May is ALWAYS hard for that reason. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Hugs!

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  35. Beautifully written. You all are heavy on my heart, especially in May.
    I also felt the 'mud' this Mother's Day. We lost our baby 3 months ago. He never took a breath this side of Heaven. The pain and sadness of his loss is overwhelming at times. While I enjoyed the time with our other children yesterday, there was a piece of our family missing. A piece longed for.
    And while for now his earthly body rests beside my bed in an urn, close to his mama, I know his Heavenly body is alive and well and waiting for me.
    But the mud is still so hard for us here...when they are there.
    I'm always brought back to your words, Emily, in an interview many years ago when you quoted Lamentations "God's mercies are new each morning". They are indeed, we just need to hold tight to that. And look forward to the day when there is no more sadness and tears. When all is made new.

    Blessings to you and your family.
    Jodi Lewandoski

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    1. So sorry for your Loss Jodi I will be praying for your family and your precious baby

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    2. Thank you so much Susan, how kind of you! <3

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    3. I, too, have a precious baby who never took a breath this side of Heaven. It's been almost 9 years now but often feels like just yesterday. I have gone on to have two other children and while I try to be present and enjoy the time I have with these two, I do look forward to being reunited with my precious baby boy. Praise be to God that one day we will all be together! It's what helps keeps me going!

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  36. Beautifully written Emily. Love how adorable Eiley looks in that Dress. She picked that dress for a reason and I know Maria was beaming seeing her precious Niece wearing her dress. God is Good I pray for you and your family

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  37. So, so beautiful and May is muddy for me as well. I remember reading about your sweet sisters loss all those years ago. I'm not really one who "follows" stories or the lives of people I don't know personally but that very same week, the week Maria went home to Jesus, I loss my mother suddenly. Sadly my mother and I did not have a loving relationship and, being a mother of 3 myself, I can say that when I grieved, it was more for the loss of what never was or would ever be. Nevertheless, sudden loss leaves you with a strange sort of whiplash. You don't fully process things and for a time, very little can effectively penetrate that numbness. Then I came across the story of your own loss... I found I couldn't stop reading the updates from the various Chapman family members - mainly precious Mary Beth. I can't explain it, our losses felt somehow intertwined in my mind throughout the fog of loss I was experiencing at the time. Mary Beth's mother's heart, through the devastating loss, touched me profoundly. When I couldn't cry for my loss...I cried for hers. As a daughter who lost a mother with very little love or regard for her child, it was a heartbreaking irony to hear of a loving mama losing her daughter at the exact same time. And so during my muddy Mays, I will always remember not only my personal loss, but your family's as well. And I will pray for beautiful happy memories and sweet girls in polka dot dresses to fill your sadness during that time.

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  38. So poignant & beautiful! Thank you for sharing your sweet words of truth & encouragement! May God's blessings abound...with a little mud thrown in! ❤️

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  39. Thank you for this message. We lost our 16 year old son & his friend on March 9, but his birthday is May 8th, which often falls on Mother's Day as it did this year. Your mother's book was one of the first books I read after Zach's accident and it was a comfort to be able to relate to the feelings she described. One thing a fellow mom in this "club that no one wants to belong to", told me that helped me the most is that every day that we survive, we are one day closer to being with our loved ones again. With God's help, we will survive our Muddy Mays!

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  40. Beautiful! And sad. And so true! Thank you for speaking the truth in such a beautiful way. Mother's Day is bittersweet for me because my mother suffers from the disease of alcoholism. As a result, she no longer interacts with me and my 4 other adult siblings. Everyone is always so excited to honor their mother and we are unable to because our mother isn't really our mother anymore--she has become engulfed by alcohol which leaves no room for us. I pray for her every day but especially on Mother's Day! And I hope others appreciate their healthy mothers and can show some understanding for those of us who no longer share their bounty. Thanks again for your insight!

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