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A mother's heart

Published May 11. 2013 09:02AM

When Becky was little, we were shopping in Sears one day. As any mom knows, shopping with young children can be challenging. On this shopping trip, my little stinker managed to unfasten the strap in her stroller. One minute she was sitting content in the stroller and the next, she was gone. Of course when I realized she was no longer confined safely, I went into panic mode. With my heart beating 100 mph, I looked around in all the aisles, calling her name, praying for a glimpse of her.

Of course I immdediately thought the worse. Someone had stolen her.

Just as I was about to go in search of security, out she popped from one of those circular clothing racks.

First came relief. I hugged her and held her close until I could finally stuff my heart back into my chest.

Then came the dismay. "Don't ever do that again," I scolded. "I was so afraid you were lost."

Her little face showed her confusion as she said, "Why? I always know where you are, Mommy."

This Mother's Day, my heart hurts for all those mothers who have lost their children, through either illness or tragedy like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary where 20 children died, along with six adults, who were also someone's children.

I can't imagine the pain an Ethiopian mother feels as she watches her child die from malnutrition in a country where starvation is almost the norm.

Even here in America, we have 16.7 million children who live in "food insecure" households, which means there are some homes where families just don't know where the next meal is coming from because of economic reasons. What must a mother feel when she knows she can't provide sustenance for her child?

Didn't your mother's heart near to burst with joy when we heard about those three women found in Cleveland, Ohio? There is no way we can understand a parent's anguish when a child goes missing like Amanda Berry did at age 16, Gina DeJesus, 14 and Michele Knight, around 18.

Amanda's mother, Louwana Miller, died three years after her daughter's disappearance from heart failure. Those closest to her believes she died from a broken heart.

The other two mothers, Nancy Ruiz and Barbara Knight, said they never gave up hope that they would someday see their daughters again. But oh, those long lonely years in-between must have been agonizing for them.

I lost Becky for only a few minutes and felt an almost paralyzing fear. It becomes unfathomable to imagine these mothers' pain these last 10 years.

I think we are all rejoicing for these families, rooting for them as they become reacquainted and wish them all well.

On April 1, Becky took a giant leap of faith to follow her heart. Unfortunately for her father and I, her heart has taken her to Texas. While the map says she's only 1,500 miles away, it might as well be a million.

Before she left, she set us up on Skype. For those of you who are even more computer illiterate than I am, that means we can call each other through our computers and actually see each other as we talk.

It helps, but it's not flesh and blood. I can't hug her. I can't smell her soft fragrance or kiss her cheeks. I can't feel her arms around me. It hurts.

You know, when we set out on the amazing journey of motherhood, we find it brings many heartaches along with all the joys.

We're told that when our young ones begin to stretch their wings, we have to let them fly.

Some of our fledglings spread their wings wide and their flight takes them far from the nest early in their life journey. Others, like Becky, may venture out into the world but stay close enough to the nest where we could still see each other as often as we could, whenever we wanted to. But what do you do when your child moves so far from home that it leaves a huge gaping hole in your heart?

As a mother, you want only your child's happiness and good health. So, you hug her, kiss her and send your prayers with her as she climbs into the car that takes her on a new and exciting stage in her life's voyage. You wish her only the very best, even though you selfishly would have liked that best be closer to home.

Yes. I know there will be visits. We talk on the phone, we email, we Skype. She's not lost. In fact I can still hear her little voice that day years ago when she was hiding among a rack of clothing. "I always know where you are, Mommy."

And I always know where she is.

We're right dab smack in the middle of each other's hearts.

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