I was sick again today. Not like a fever or pneumonia or the bird flu, just a wore-out nauseated, I-can't-say-that-I-really-care-about-anything feeling. My wife pointed out that for the last thirteen Mother's days I have been sick, and you know what, she's right, almost. I've been sick for the last thirty Mother's Days.
I don't know how much of this is what really happened, but it's what I remember. I was in the fourth grade. We had to make a Mother's day card or something and I just lost it. My teacher didn't know about the hole in my heart, that I didn't know how to stop the flow and keep the blood from going everywhere. It squeezes out, you know, but by the time it gets to my eyes it's just tears, and it escapes my mouth in great sobs, and I'm ten and I don't know why I'm the only kid in the room that's crying and I hate Mother's day and I just want to hide under the floor because I'm embarrassed and I just want to run away, I think I'm going to be sick, can I please just go home?
The sun is so bright outside in the middle of the day, I'm blinded as I run out of the room and all I can do is stand there and weep. My poor teacher, she has no idea what to do for me, so she just holds me. I think I fell in love with her that day, but she didn't know how to stop the bleeding, either and I died there at Dowling Elementary, on the play ground in the arms of some one else's Mom, because I didn't have a mom to keep me alive.
It's not contagious, but it's not uncommon. It's this disease of being broken and the feelings of being so alone, like a single snowflake in a frozen world falling through the dark sky toward the ground, white and beautiful to become part of the landscape, so indistinguishable from all of the other flakes. That's what I feel like on Mother's day, a frozen little flake, without anything or anyone. I know that's not reality, but I can't see past the flurries.
I'm sorry. I'm just bleeding today, I have this hole in my heart, you know, and it hurts right now. You'd think it would be healed, as spiritual as everybody thinks I am. And I want it to be, as much as anything, to be able to celebrate the beauty of my wife's motherhood. She's a wonderful mother, she would disagree, but she loves our boys and gives her all. Thank you, Tinakay, I love you.
God, for all of the people that struggled through today, for the brokenhearted and the grieving, please touch us, and help us. We'll give you the brokenness and the pain and stand blind and helpless in the brightness of the midday sun or the darkness of the night and if you'll hold us, we'll fall in love with you as we die in your arms. Die to the shame of being an orphan and to the despair of being motherless.
Bless the mothers, God. Help them to be there and to be patient and kind and to know how to hold us when we fall down.
Author's Note: You know, it's interesting how pain resonates and connects people. I believe that we as individuals and society as a whole are profoundly wounded, but we're all afraid, which I think is a by-product of the pain, to acknowledge it. Afraid that others will see us as weak or tainted. And yet we are all weak and damaged and in need of a Savior and that is the beauty of grace and Christ and the church. We are a body of broken bread and a cup of the blood of smashed fruit. Isn't that Jesus?
We are born of God and we are borne of God, He carries us. I love this statement made by a wonderful woman named Francis, "I don't always feel him when I'm awake..." He holds us closest when we're dreaming, because we can dream so big and not be afraid. I think that's why the word says that the elders will "dream dreams" in Joel and Acts.
I pray that we will begin to dream while we're awake and that the supernatural will come close to us, and we will feel the hand of Christ, scarred and healed and know that He too suffered while He was here, but He overcame and so will we. So, in the words of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, "Dream on. Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true.
I still love you, Mrs. Villegas, I don't think I ever told you.
Excerpt from Smudges, As Much As I Can See So Far, visit ArmandoHeredia.com for more information. 2006. Armando Heredia
2009. Armando Heredia
Armando serves as co-pastor of Tapestry in Granite City, IL and is an artist and author.