For the Mother Who Didn’t Get to Be a Mom

I didn’t know you. Tonight, as we sat at the kitchen table watching my daughter play with a puzzle, my own mother turned to me and said “Something sad happened at work today.”

A first-time mother, only 29 years old.

An amniotic embolism.

A coma.

A hopeful day of awakening, talking, sitting up.

(Yes, she got to see her baby.)

A mother for 10 days. A mom for hours. And then she was gone.

I saw the newborn baby girl in the hospital, helpless and scared without her mother. I saw dad with his head in his hands, grief-stricken, shocked, and confused as to how he’s going to do this alone.

In the face of these images, I wanted to give them every toy, every piece of infant clothing, every baby item in my entire house. In that moment, I wanted to give that father and his baby every penny I had and take them casseroles for a year.

In the face of these images, I knew it would never be enough.

A pit in my stomach, I stood at the counter microwaving leftovers robotically, as if on an assembly line. I chewed on my bottom lip as a familiar record began to play.


How could this happen to someone so young?

Why her? Why them?

Why is life so fragile?

But this time, before heading too far down that familiar road, I was able to interrupt the thoughts with a moment of mindfulness. What did it matter?

Whether you believe things happen for a reason or not, whether you believe God is merciful or God is an asshole or there is no God at all, there’s always a lesson to be learned in the moment.

Give your children twice as many kisses, for the mother who didn’t get to be a mom.

Inhale their scent more deeply, for the mother who didn’t get to be a mom.

Hold them in your embrace for an extra second, for the mother who didn’t get to be a mom.

Take another deep breath before responding to your children when you’re angry, for the mother who didn’t get to be a mom.

Play with them for 1 more minute, even when you’re busy, for this mother who didn’t get to be a mom.

Never forget how blessed each and every moment with your loved ones is, for all the mothers who didn’t get to be moms.

Seize this moment. It’s the only one you’re guaranteed.

UPDATE: There is a GoFundMe page if you are moved to support this family!

Originally published at on August 14, 2015.