January 21, 2009

Joy in the Mourning

2009 1503 page31 cap WASN’T SURE I WANTED TO HAVE CHILDREN. IT SEEMED THAT TOO MUCH responsibility, hard work, and personal life changes came with those little “bundles of joy.”

Joy? Really? Then why did parents often look tired and frazzled? And why were they stuck at home instead of traveling or going out and doing fun things in the evenings? Didn’t sound like fun to me.
But then I remembered all those fun times with my mom. Such as when she baked and decorated fancy cakes for my birthday parties. Or the countless times she made me laugh so hard that my stomach ached and tears ran down my face. Or those nights we counted our kisses before bed to see who could kiss the most. But mainly, it was her unconditional love—just knowing she would love me no matter what and would always be there for me—that brought me security.

But my security left me. She lost her life to cancer when I was 17.
2009 1503 page31Dealing with her death was the hardest struggle of my life, but God was my help. After some counseling I was ready to move on. But even though I finally felt like getting out of bed in the morning again, there were so many times I longed for my mom to be with me. I wanted her to make me laugh like she used to do. I wanted her at my high school and college graduations and when I married. And I wanted to call her the day I discovered two pink lines.
My husband was waiting to hear the results. I handed him the test. “I’m pregnant,” I said matter-of-factly. It wasn’t planned. We both stared at the pink lines just to be sure there were two, which indicated I was pregnant. With mixed emotions—but mostly with excitement—I called my aunt; my husband called his mom. I wished I could call mine.
After 22 hours of hard labor my baby girl entered the world. It was the most beautiful and exhilarating moment of my life. She was perfect; I even loved the sound of her cry. Now she is crawling.
Everything in my world has changed. Not only have I quit working outside the home, but I am relishing just being a mom. My goals have changed, but my life has not stopped after all.
I gave my daughter the middle name “Joy,” and now I understand why they call babies “bundles of joy.” She has brought me more joy than anything else in my life. And although my mother isn’t here to share my joy (or my Joy), I now understand the joy she had with me.
It took me by surprise one day when my daughter flashed a big, toothless grin. Her smile mirrored her grandmother’s. As she has grown, I’ve noticed that the shape of her face and even her eyes look more like Mom’s every day. As her personality develops, I am discovering how overtly sanguine she is. She also got that from Mom.
Then it hit me: My mom left my life, but God gave me a precious little “Joy” who is so much like her. And my daughter and I have the same big belly laughs my mother and I used to have.
The Bible verse is true: “For those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61:3).
God has given me a beautiful Joy in place of Mom’s absence. And I praise Him every time we laugh. 
Vanessa Sanders is a proud mother of a baby girl. A freelance writer, she has had many articles published in newspapers and religious magazines.