I became a mother for the first and only time at 11:58 PM on October 5, 1981. Our daughter, Lesley, grew up to be beautiful, intelligent, witty and creative. She brought us great joy as we watched her grow from a little girl into a compassionate professional rehabilitation counselor. She also suffered from bipolar disorder, and after struggling for many years, she ended her life on January 2, 2007 at the young age of 25.
I am still a mother. I will always be a mother. Thoughts of Lesley continue to make my heart swell with love.
After Lesley was born, Mothers’ Day was always special to me. Having lost my own mother when I was 17, the day had been one of sadness and loss. But having a child of my own made it joyous and meaningful. I cherished all the handmade cards and little gifts. Even during her college years, we always celebrated together as a family. After she died, I didn’t know how I would get through that first Mothers’ Day. The holiday is inescapable for weeks ahead. It’s on TV, in the newspaper, in cards stores and flower shops. It was painful to see friends’ and neighbors’ driveways filling up with their visiting children’s cars. Just not ours.
I learned, in time, that our “new normal” lives would be filled with difficult days, like birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. I also came to realize that the anticipation of these dreaded days was worse than the actual day once it arrived. When once it didn’t seem possible to continue, we learned that life does go on, whether we think it will or not.
Now, as I approach my tenth Mothers’ Day without my child, it’s still painful…but not impossible. I’ve learned to be aware of the frailty of life and how important it is to appreciate and treasure the love of my husband, family and close friends. I appreciate all that I have, and no longer focus only on what has been lost.
Lesley adored books and, as a young child, loved to be read to. One of our favorites was Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It’s a beautiful story of the enduring love between a mother and her child. The mother sings a sweet lullaby throughout the book.
“I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Lesley gave me 25 years of memories, love and laughter. I will be her mother on Mother’s Day and every day of my life.
Many people have complicated personal responses to Mothers’ Day, and those who have been affected by suicide are no exception. Read other people’s experiences around this upcoming holiday here. We also have a resource for coping with difficult occasions.
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