This week Project Pomegranate offers our “Prepare Yourselves, Mother’s Day is Coming” Blog series, noting how difficult the Mother’s Day season can be for those who have struggled with fertility grief. We begin the week with a blog by our new friend Erin Robinson Hall. Thanks to Erin for offering these words, which she previously published on The Laundry.
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I quietly avoided Mother’s day for a few years. Quietly, in the sense that our journey through infertility was deeply private and personal and I just couldn’t bear silly platitudes or awful questions people think they can throw out when they are faced with something as baffling as infertility. Inside, however, I was not quiet. Storms of emotion raged. My answer was to just avoid church on Mother’s Day, with whatever excuse I could think up.
So much so that one year I actually chose to go sweat and work outside rather than be at church. In April 2011, tornadoes devastated many parts of AL and GA. One of those parts is near and dear to my sister: Tuscaloosa. As we heard about the loss of homes, water, power and lives there, we wanted badly to help. Several organizations were right there on the ground, immediately, helping. Sister wept for the damage to this community she loved and when she heard that her best partner in crime was heading to Tuscaloosa to do disaster relief, she called me:
“Sister, we’re going to Tuscaloosa. Storm relief. Want to come?”
I informed her that most organizations were saying donate money to the red cross (which we did) and pray (which we did) and wait to see what needs emerged.
She said, “That’s nice. We’re going anyway. Have no idea what we’ll do there, but we’re going.”
I reminded her I hated to sweat and detested yard work. She told me to get some damn work gloves and get ready to pull branches and load cases of water. She said Keisha’s school had collected pet food (you don’t think about this is needed, but it is) and kids’ toys and books. I was not yet convinced until she reminded me “It’s Mother’s Day weekend.”
I don’t know why, but it seemed to be the perfect place for my internal storm, to drive head-on into a place that had been devastated by storms. And, my desire to avoid mother’s day was so deep I would put on work gloves and sweat in another state to do so.
It ended up being one of my favorite road trips ever. Complete with a broken down van of supplies (this was a trip with Robinson girls so, yeah, that happened), getting lost, sweating our butts off, working side by side with strangers, and crying as we saw what used to be beloved buildings, communities and homes. I was glad we went. I was glad to spend hours pulling broken limbs from houses and unloading supplies and hearing stories from people who had lost so very much.
Something in their heartache just made my ache seem to dull a bit. Or maybe it resonated with me. In that town where buildings were flattened, people died, and long-time residents couldn’t get their bearings because landmarks were gone, there weren’t a lot of sappy greeting cards or mother’s day TV commercials. There were just people trying to figure out what was next. And that was exactly what I was trying to do.
On the long drive home from T-town, after a thousand laughs and a few spats with Sister, we were singing with the radio. One of my favorite cheesy country songs came on, “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascall Flatts. My hates-to-cry-when-it’s-for-real Sister said, “Who is this with the stupid song?” I sang along and she cried, too, saying “Stupid perfect song.” It just seemed to fit the weekend.
I hear that song now, and think back to when Mother’s Day made my heart ache. All I can say to my friends who even now struggle with getting through all the days that hurt – not just the ones marked by Hallmark cards – is, “I won’t let go.”
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won’t let you fall.