Every year as my birthday approaches, I think of my mother. I remember chocolate cakes made lovingly from my grandmother’s recipe and birthday parties planned with her creative flair. I remember sugar cookies cut in the shapes of numbers and birthday cakes covered in sparklers. I remember birthday dinners around our old wooden table and her delight as she told me how I was an answer to prayer.
I remember her telling me of the night she knelt down to pray in the darkness. She wept with longing as she poured out prayers kneeling against the hard, cold tile of the kitchen floor. She wept for the babies she would never know and for life that did not come. She wept for dreams of motherhood that stood beyond her reach. She wept for the life she wanted and the life she had.
For 14 years they prayed for babies and lost them.
For 14 years they longed for babies while they watched their friends birth and raise them.
That night, in the darkness with her face pressed against the kitchen floor, she cried out for God to show her what her life could be apart from what she had always wanted and she let go of her plans. He heard her cries and a few weeks later she wept again for a life given.
Weeks passed and she allowed herself to wander into a store and run her hands across soft baby blankets and tiny clothes. She picked up a satin lined blanket, imagined wrapping it around the baby growing inside her and dared to buy it.
Nearly nine months later, on a sweltering hot September day, I arrived two weeks late to a party my mother had been longing to throw for years. Despite the heat, she wrapped me in that satin lined blanket and thanked God for her healthy baby girl.
I slept with that blanket every night of my childhood until its satin edges ripped from their seams and it became so tattered and torn that holes formed in its fabric. Each night it reminded me that I was wanted and prayed for, and each night it reminded me that my life was an answer to prayer.
Years later, I found that tattered blanket in a box and wrapped it around my own baby. As he sat curled in my lap with it pressed to his cheek, I told him about his Grandmother. I told him about feeding ducks and wandering through art museums. I told him about mornings spent picking daffodils and June evenings catching lightening bugs. I told him of early morning trips to farmer’s markets and swinging on swing sets. I told him of her kindness and her tender heart. I told him how much she would have loved him and how much I missed her. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I sang the words she had sung to me and I thanked God for life.
On these early September days, I am thinking of my mother once again. I remember her faithfulness and her gentle spirit, her kindness and her tender heart. I remember her heartbreak and her answered prayers, and I remember that each one of my days is a gift to be given away generously.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17