Julie Christen, Ft. Collins, CO ("Mothers Like Me" Teen Loss Group Leader)
"The weather is warming and the birds are singing - - Spring is finally here after a long winter. It seems like every year I experience that same feeling of anxious expectation, as one of my favorite seasons approaches. And, as Spring brings new life, we celebrate Mothers for their role in giving life to their children.
I have always loved being honored by my husband and three kids for this role in their lives, but over the past 5 years, I have an additional feeling of sadness, because my 20 year old daughter, Rachel, was killed in a car accident on May 22, 2008, only days after Mother’s Day.
Rachel always made special occasions- well, special! She was very thoughtful and artistic, and she was a very good gift-giver; the gifts were things she knew I’d love - a cute little garlic keeper for my kitchen counter that I still use and enjoy, a pretty blouse I still wear, a pasta colander that I use regularly, and a bag of specialty pasta that I just haven’t been able to use.
These were the last material gifts I’d ever receive from Rachel for Mother’s Day. I know the gifts aren’t what matters, but as the day approaches, it’s a reminder that she won’t be here, yet another year to celebrate with me. My other two children are great at making me feel special and I’m so thankful for them, but its just not the same without Rachel for any of us!
I don’t know about other moms that have lost a child, but as the anniversary of Rachel’s death and Mother’s Day approaches, memories of things that were happening at that time of the year come back to me. The day Rachel died, my favorite tree in my front yard was in full bloom with beautiful, fragrant white flowers. Now, when that tree blooms, it’s a bitter-sweet reminder of that day. I know it’s healthy to be honest with my feelings and say it’s painful, as Spring approaches, but I also have to look at the reality of what is true, as well.
I miss Rachel more than any words on this page could ever convey, but I know that she is waiting for me in Heaven- rejoicing and honoring her God she loved with all her heart. He is the One that deserves her praises and gifts! I was fortunate enough to get some of that here on earth, what a gift that I will cherish forever! Mother’s Day will keep coming every year, and though it brings some sadness of never spending it with Rachel again on this earth, I am so grateful for the memories that make me smile. The role of motherhood is the most precious gift a woman can ever receive and I hope you will celebrate your special day with me with thankfulness!"