My strongest memory of my momma is more of a feeling than a memory. I can see myself standing in the bright kitchen of our big yellow house looking up at my beautiful momma surrounded by sunlight. I think she was handing me a glass of saltwater for a sore throat. But the feeling is what I remember in the most detail . . .

I felt safe and loved, known and seen.  

I knew that even if I didn’t know what I needed, she would always know. A hug, a song, a gentle nudge of confidence, a silly kitchen dance, or a glass of saltwater for my sore throat. She just knewlike mommas do.  

I never really felt like a motherless child growing up even though I lost my momma to cancer when I was only five

My family loved me well. I have had a stepmom most of my life whoeven though we weathered many stormsis a treasured confidant and friend to me and a wonderful grandmother to my children.  

I never felt like there was always someone missing during major events in my lifeour huge family always showed up in big ways. I had a twinge of that she should be here feeling when I got married. I honored her kind of privately by carrying a special handkerchief wrapped around my bouqueta loving and thoughtful gift from my stepmom.  

This ocean called grief didn’t start to wash over me until I became pregnant with my first child (or children—twins), and I became a motherless momma.  

RELATED: When You Become a Mom, You Want Your Own—But Sometimes She’s in Heaven

Suddenlywell, slowly reallyas my belly grew, I longed more and more for the one who had wished and prayed for me just like I had wished and prayed for the tiny babies I was carrying.

I needed the one who knew me and loved me even before that first flutter of movement or rush of a heartbeat. 

As this new life grew in me and I was overcome with the depth of a mother’s love, I wondered how hard it must have been for my momma to know her cancer would take her from me . . . how she must have grieved for all she would miss.  

Over the years this overwhelming sense of loss would sneak up on me and take my breath at different times.

My first Mother’s Day.

The day my twins turned five, the same age I was when she died.

Mostly I missed her presence during the hard and lonely moments of motherhood. The exhausted, sleep-deprived, no shower, living in pajamas days of nursing two newborns.

The endless days of twin toddler tantrums and household messes when I would plop downexhausted and pregnant with number threein the middle of the chaos of laundry and LEGOs and wish for someone to know I needed to be rescued with a coffee and grown-up conversation.

When my third child received a life-changing diagnosis at 11 months old.

I would imagine her breezing through the front door, waving me off to shower and rest while she rocked fussy babies or mopped sticky floors. 

I imagined her holding me through the heartache of processing each new fear and moment of grief over what my son’s future might look like. 

I imagined her loving me gently back to life when the darkest seasons of depression and anxiety threatened to steal my joy.  

RELATED: It’s Hard Being a Mom Without My Own Mother’s Guidance

Now with two teenagers and an 11-year-old with special needs, I imagine her sending me and my husband away for the weekend assuring us that she has it under control.   

I imagine her just being here. Knowing and anticipating what I might need at any given moment like only a mother can.  

Sometimes these waves of grief crush me, the weight of the loss and her absence feels unbearable.  

I miss her in the wonderful, joyful times too. But it’s different. The happiest days would still be happy days if she were here. But the weight of motherhood, the hard, lonely parts—it seems like they wouldn’t be nearly as hard or heavy if only my momma were here to hold my hand and walk me through.

My greatest hope is that God would bless me with enough years to love on my own babies as they navigate life, love, and loss, marriage, parenthood, and any hard season this momma could make a little lighter just by holding their hand and walking them through. By knowing and anticipating their needs like only a momma can.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Stephanie Bearden Mead

Just a small town momma navigating marriage, motherhood, special needs parenting, and life on a wing and a prayer. I am learning to prioritize my mental health by giving myself loads of grace and giving others healthy boundaries. I live in South Carolina with my husband, our three children, two doodles, and one cat.

What Would Mom Do? Oh, How I Wish I Could Ask Her

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Woman looking out window

I was lucky enough to share my first almost-three years of motherhood with my mom, sort of. She had been sick for about a year before we found out we were expecting, and she only got worse as I progressed through my pregnancy and after my son was born. Regardless, she was the person I called with all my questions.  When they sent me home from the hospital and told me to give him Tylenol if he seemed uncomfortable, I called her because they never told me how much. And somehow, I just knew she would know.  When I wasn’t...

Keep Reading

Even Though You’re In Heaven, Your Grandchildren Will Know You

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Motherhood
Mother and little boy looking down road

The well-loved picture frame sits on the shelf in your grandkids’ room; just high enough to be out of reach from curious toddler hands, but low enough for me to pull it down each time they ask about you. That photo of you— it has always been my favorite. You look so happy, so healthy, so whole . . . just the way that I want these sweet grandbabies of yours—the ones you never got to meet—to know you. Because although you may be in Heaven, they will know you. You’ll never bounce them on your knee, or sneak extra...

Keep Reading

A Letter To My Mom in Heaven

In: Death of a Parent, Grief
A Letter To My Mom in Heaven

A few months ago, I lost a mentor to a long, but courageous, fight against cancer. Watching her journey was an inspiration as I had always admired her, but now I witnessed her strength on a completely different level. About a week ago, her husband made a Facebook post about how he had taken the time to write her a heavenly letter as recommended by his grief counselor and how he found it extremely therapeutic. It struck a chord within me as the anniversary of my mother’s passing was quickly approaching. I still have such a wide range of emotions...

Keep Reading