So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

My 7-year-old daughter, Emma, died seven years ago from complications associated with Pantothenate Kinase Associated Neurodegeneration, an extremely rare and progressive neurological genetic disorder. Her 11-year-old sister, Alex, died of the same disease 21 months later.

I loved my daughters wholly, without exception or compromise. I was as prepared as any mother can be for the death of her daughters, which is to say that their deaths were anticipated and, still, completely devastating. Their deaths rocked my world, but somehow, against all reason, the sun continues to rise, and I keep living.

My grief has been a journey, the terrain ever-changing.

I started on an unmarked trail in the dead of night, it was unkempt and overgrown with unseen obstacles around at every turn. My husband was beside me, but neither of us knew the way. We forged ahead, stumbling clumsily along, our only comfort in knowing that God placed us together for the journey. In time and with attention, the trail widened and cleared. Over the years I have traveled down neglected back roads, overcrowded highways, and everything in between.

Today, I find myself on a quiet country road, maintained only by my faithful travel; travel that is loyal to the memory of my daughters while moving forward in hope. It is a quiet road, but not a lonely one. It is private and peaceful. There are shady spots to rest, where I sometimes sit and surrender myself to the depths of sorrow, but there are also open stretches where I open my arms, turn my face to the heavens, and welcome the warmth of the sun’s rays. There is happiness here, heard in the cheerful song of the birds in the trees and seen in clusters of wildflowers that grow in the sunlight along my path.

My road hasn’t been mapped and I give thanks for this place that is without parameters or expectations. When I am here, I am allowed to simply be and feel and live as I need to. My journey is charted day by day in the most intimate places of my soul. I can feel my children here and I find comfort in my memories of them.

This is where I sit in solitude, where I convene with my God, where I walk in quiet understanding with my husband, and where I sometimes bring my youngest daughter to play among the flowers.

While I never planned to take this trip, I have grown quite fond of the unexpected treasures that grow freely here.

This journey of grief is somehow lush with new growth and possibility without sacrifice of the beauty that was. I don’t understand it, but I give thanks for it.

If you are on your own journey of grief, I pray that you find solace and healing in the travel. Your road is all your own and I am so sorry that I cannot show you the way.

I know that sometimes the storms are so violent that the aftermath of mud and debris feels impossible to navigate. Droughts can be severe, roads can get crowded, detours can change your course, and darkness can be immobilizing.

This may be as close as our paths ever come, and, if so, I hope that my vulnerability offers you comfort and validation on your journey. If the day does come when our courses cross, maybe we will find that one of us has in plenty the exact thing that the other finds in short supply. Or maybe we will know that all we have to offer each other is a moment of quiet understanding in the shade and the wisdom that we are not alone.

And sometimes, that is exactly enough.

A version of this article originally appeared on Journey of Grief

You may also like:

This is Grief

You Cannot Control Seasons of Grief; You Can Only Move Through Them

Mandy McCarty Harris

Mandy McCarty Harris lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, young daughter, three dogs, and eleven backyard chickens. She writes about living happily in the messy middle of life. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and at

Memories Fill the Holes in Their Hearts Where a Grandpa’s Love Should Be

In: Grief
Drawing, journal, and photo of man, color photo

“Girls, come here for a minute.” In some sort of yearly ritual, I guide my oldest two daughters to my bedroom, where a wooden chest sits. It’s painted in flowers of muted colors and has a brass keyhole on it, making it look like an antique. It isn’t. It’s only 20 years old. As my girls follow me into my room, I grab the skeleton key off my dresser that unlocks the wooden chest. I turn the key and open the wooden box that holds so many pieces that are supposed to remind me of my dad.  Pictures of him....

Keep Reading

The Calls Stopped When the Casket Closed

In: Grief
Father and toddler walking in cemetery, color photo

The night my mother died is raw. It was filled with a lot of emotions: anger, regret, sadness, guilt, and remorse. The next day, I woke up to multiple calls, text messages, posts on my Facebook wall, and Facebook messages. It was a flood. The flood soon turned into a drought. Before I could process what happened the night before, people were sending flowers, the funeral home was calling, and people were showing up at my door. The next two days there was an influx of people in and out of my house and a lot of food. But the...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Lasts Forever

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Silhouette mother and daughter

She was so pretty. So pretty it was hard to look away from that porcelain skin, those high cheekbones, stunning green eyes with just the right amount of sparkle and depth, and shiny black hair. And those lips, perfectly plump with neatly applied lipstick, always ready to give a kiss on the cheek or a knowing smile. More than pretty, she was beautiful—you know, beautiful inside and out. She was classy. Not fancy or prim and proper, not snobby—just classy. A certain air about her that made you notice and appreciate her presence when she walked into the room. She...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

Thumbprint Glasses and a Lifetime of Love

In: Grief, Motherhood
Broken thumbprint glass on floor, color photo

Yesterday my Nannie’s glass was shattered, intentionally thrown across the room by a child of mine. My heart shattered with it for that glass held memories. When we visited my Nannie in Florida, I would wake with the sun to the aroma of fresh eggs, bacon, and grits. I would stumble into her bright yellow kitchen. The counters always cluttered, the small white table nicely set, and the glasses full of orange juice. “Thumbprint glasses,” I called them. I would put my tiny thumb into the imprint of each beautiful dent and admire the rainbows the iridescent glass made. That...

Keep Reading

My Birthday Will Never Be the Same without My Mother

In: Grief
Mother and two daughters, older color photo

It’s been eight months since my mom took her last breath on earth and entered into her eternal resting place. Eight, long, motherless months. I expected holidays to be hard, as they should, because a piece of the family is missing. The spot where they once sat, ate, laughed, took pictures, and made memories is now empty. Just like a piece of my heart is empty. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose My Mom the Day She Died The holiday no one prepared me for was my birthday. A day that’s to be celebrated. It’s the day I took my first...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Mom, You Were There for All My Firsts…Except This One

In: Grief
Sad woman looking out window

Firsts are monumental. Inaugural. Annual. They say you always remember the milestones, the annuals, the inaugurals.  You were there for those firsts during my first few years of life: my first tooth, first steps, first boo-boo. Always supporting me. Always cheering me on. When I grew up, you stood by me for the next wave of firsts: my first bad grade, my first heartbreak, the first fight with friends, my first solo in choir, my first stitches.  You stayed by my side during the pain from your divorce and dried my tears when Dad moved out. You even loved me...

Keep Reading

I Wanted to Call You Last Night, Dad

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman sitting on dock alone by lake

I went to call you last night. I was sitting in my room, watching grown men play a child’s game. Alone. And when the last out was registered, in an improbable no-hitter, I needed to share my delight. I wanted to call you. But I couldn’t. Since you left, a mere 18 months ago, there have been many moments, when I have wanted to call. To say, hello, to ask for advice, to share good news, and bad. To discuss world events or shoot the breeze. To hear your corny jokes and lift your spirits. Or have you lift mine....

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime