I was in New Jersey Sunday and Monday for the funeral of a dear friend to our family. It was hard and it was so sad. I sat there at the funeral while her two sons and daughter gave such incredible testimony to her life, and to what she meant to them as a mother. One thing stuck out that was so beautiful and poignant and it went something like this: "Mom thought her life was plain and simple, but it was anything but plain and simple to us." It was heartbreaking. That she wasn't sitting there among them, a whole family, the way we'd been accustomed to seeing them forever. That her plain and simple life meant the world to them. That they were forever changed by her life and by her death. To hear the love, the loss, the tears catching in their voices, that their leader of the family, as they called her, was gone. I'm sitting here crying again.
I couldn't help but think about Steve, about Shannon. As my sister and I neared the front of the church at the viewing and saw them standing up there, I couldn't help but imagine a younger Nathaniel, Jordan, William, and Lindsey standing there at the viewing of their own Mom while people looked on crying at such an unspeakable loss. Parker is just about how old Lindsey was when Shannon died. It's incredible to me. She was so young.
As I sat there, I thought about my role as a mother. I think being a mother was our friend's most important role, her dearest one, her life's work. Not because she didn't or couldn't accomplish other things or because it was all she had. It was because she wanted it that way. I thought of how important my role is as a mother, as a stepmother. I thought of how often I fall short of making it the most important thing, how I often keep a record of wrongs, or don't show love and instead let my hurt feelings stand in the way. I thought of how I'm selfish and make time for the things I find important instead of the things another would find important. I thought of how I should be the bigger person but don't always act as such. I thought of how nothing matters, in the end, but the love you shared. How making your children feel loved through and through is the greatest gift, both to give and to receive. I have a lot of work to do, but it's really important work.