This afternoon I stood outside hanging laundry. It is the first week of October, autumn has surely arrived with her cold wind and orange leaves. Ethan, my two year old, was running around kicking his ball, looking for bugs and pointing out the airplanes over our heads. In my right arm was little three month old Axel. He was wrapped in a quilt his grandma had made. Yes I was hanging laundry with one hand. I looked at my children and wondered if I had dressed them warm enough. Time suddenly paused. My thoughts transported to another time. A time when a people were driven from their homes and persecuted for their religious beliefs.
I had heard the stories a hundred times. But this afternoon it became real to me. As I watched Ethan running around and held Axel in my arms, I wondered, “was there a woman just like me? With two young sons?” I imagined there was a woman struggling through the snow. Tired, aching, but determined. I know children died in the harsh winters. I wondered if she lost one of her sons because he got too cold? Did her baby survive? Warm enough in the blankets and quilts she had made for him? I know how my toddler loves to run away and explore. Did hers do the same and got lost in the snow? With these thoughts suddenly overwhelming me, as if it were happening right in front of me, I took my two sons inside where I knew it was warm and gave them both a big cuddle.
My heart aches for the trials those women suffered, but I also thank God for their strength and their unshakeable faith. If I were to ever meet a woman who had lost her child, I would embrace her as if she were my long lost sister. As if I had been there with her, beside her, and shared her tears. As if I had known those children and remembered the sound of their laughter. And the way they smelled after playing outside all day. I would embrace her and miss them with her.
I cannot bear the thought of losing my boys, yet I know there are mothers out there who have lost theirs. How strong they must be to carry on. Since becoming a mother I have found an instant connection to other mothers. There is something that binds us, and I believe that it is the understanding of what it feels like to be a mother. The love we have for our children. The struggles we experience raising them. That understanding brings about compassion. I am grateful to those fellow moms out there who reach out to me because they understand and feel compassion when I struggle. We mothers also share the jokes, the funny things our children do that make us smile.
All those women, in the pioneer stories, now have a place in my heart. They lived a long time ago but the feelings of motherhood seem quite the same. There is much we can learn and appreciate from the women who have gone before us. They are our grandmothers. I am grateful for their strength. x
(all photos via google.com)