We spent this weekend far from home but sheltered by the love of family and friends. During this lengthy road trip I had much opportunity to reflect on what is important to me as a mother. I hear so many mothers express how important it is to them that their children grow up to be "successful". When asked to define what success means to them I am usually told that it means their children will mature to be independant, married with children, securely employed and own a home. They often add almost as an afterthought that they of course also wish happiness for their children.
My wish for my children has always been somewhat different than the answers that I have heard. My children experienced challenges in early childhood that set them apart in many ways from the general population of children. My children experienced loss at a very young age. They experienced social and medical challenges that had the potential to negatively impact their lives forever. Perhaps this is why my wish for my children has always been a bit simpler.
My wish for my children has been that they proceed through life as strong individuals with gentle spirits. I never presumed to know which direction life might take them and I refuse to give a specific definition of what "success" might look like. As far as I am concerned to gain strength in character and tenderness in spirit is the greatest success of all.
This year, as I face Mother's Day without my littlest baby, I want to share with you a very intimate detail about the day that Aziza died. As my sweet baby lay fighting in the ICU on December 5th she was surrounded by her family. When her heart stopped beating for the final time I knew that my Warrior Princess had fought her last battle. I knew that her strength of character and her gentle spirit had taken her as far as they could take her in this world. And in those moments of shock and sorrow immediately after she died, my own heart was jolted by an unexpected and somewhat out of place sound. It was the sound of a teenager's voice singing. Quivering with emotion and very tenderly this quiet voice sang - breaking through my sobs and shudders. There were three other pediatric patients in the room as well as numerous nurses and doctors, and in that moment - and for the duration of the song, everything in the ICU stopped. The touching melody that carried through the ICU was not that of a typical children's song, but rather came from a popular artist that many teens and adults listen to. Completely oblivious to the audience surrounding her, my teenage daughter sang with raw emotion and with tears pouring down her face. Despite the grown up and heart wrenching lyrics it was very evident what the purpose of the song was. This was a teenager singing a final lullaby to her baby sister as she closed her eyes forever. I will never forget that unexpected scene.
The reason that I am sharing this story today is that it was that moment in time, with one child passing on and another reaching out in comfort, that I realized something. I realized that my children had already achieved all that I had hoped they would in life. My children possessed and possess a strength of character and a tenderness in spirit that many will pass through a lifetime without attaining. I am so very proud and blessed to be their mother ... a mother of sweet warriors.
Sweet Warriors, May 2012