Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Motherhood Personified

Sometime when you meet a woman, you just know she is meant for motherhood. Carla is that woman. When we first met, she was single but planning her future, a future which included marriage to her best friend and love of her life. She was finishing her education, and was headed to a job as a teacher to teenagers with the most significant of disabilities. Her soon-to-be husband, Martin, also worked with teenagers and young adults with significant disabilities. They both enjoyed volunteering with the Special Olympics, and their marriage seemed one that had been preordained.

Just last summer, I attended a baby shower for Carla. Like Carla, it was unconventional, loads of fun, and planned to the smallest detail to include and accommodate her friends with disabilities. That’s just the way Carla is – no one is left out and everyone is always made to feel welcome. Just a few short weeks after the shower, baby Hannah Abigail arrived in this world to the joyous arms of her mother and father.

Baby Hannah was a shining light of love – a daily celebration for her parents, aunts, grandparents, other relatives and friends. Though not a June Cleaver, apron-wearing, always baking type of mother, Carla was everything any real mother longs to be. Like Martin was perfect for Carla, Baby Hannah was perfect for her parents – again as if preordained. Life was one exciting, joyous moment to another for this little family of three, that is, until last week when Baby Hannah, only 7 months old, was called to leave her earthly family behind as she moved to Heaven.

At Hannah’s memorial service last night, the tears flowed freely, but thankfulness also filled the room. Everyone in attendance, the family and the friends, knew they had each been given a gift, a gift that was shared for 7 wonderful months. After the services, Carla stood and greeted each person individually. The perfect image of the Earth Mother of decades past, Carla wore her strength as surely as she wore her flip flops on her feet. Though from time to time, a few drops of that strength would surface on her trembling lower lip as she hugged the hundreds in attendance, and revealed her motherhood to everyone.

Carla will always be Hannah’s mother. And I believe she will also be the mother to Hannah’s siblings in the future. She nurtured Baby Hannah in her womb for 9 months, and then wrapped her in her loving arms for the next 7 months. To me, she is motherhood personified, and she is teaching me how to be a strong and loving mother myself. I love you, Carla. You are my hero.

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