What is your perfect Mother’s Day? Did your day involve your family, friends, maybe even a special photo to remember the day? One of my favorite Mother’s Days was nothing special, but the picture that was taken a week before Mother’s Day in May of 2013 was. If you look at our picture, it appears to be a “perfect” family. Or does it? We have five in our family, my two sons, one daughter, my husband, and me. It just happened to be my son Tyler’s confirmation day. So of course, we would snap a quick family picture. The following weekend was Mother’s Day. We do not usually do anything special, just a day together as a family. My heart was full and my life was blessed. Never thinking our “perfect” family of five would change.

Fast forward three months to August 23, 2013. That night would change the way I have felt about Mother’s Day forever. It was the night my middle child Tyler was killed in a car accident only three short days after he turned 15 years old. He was coming home and the driver lost control of his car on our gravel road about a mile from our house.

No more hugs.

No more “I love you, Mom.”

No more laughing and no more smiles.

No more Mother’s Day cards signed with Tyler’s name.

No more “perfect” family pictures.

My heart would no longer feel complete and full, but only ache on that day.

From that day on, my Mother’s Days would be different.

It is hard to put into words how a bereaved mom feels. I feel pain, but then guilt for being sad or even happy. Especially when I have two other kids still here who love me, care for me and are hurting just as much. The reality is Tyler is gone and we will never get him back no matter what we do. There is such an empty space in my heart only a person who has lost a child can understand. That quick snapshot of a family picture was so much more.

It was the last one.

Tyler will never be in our family pictures ever again.

Why did I wait so long to take a picture? I am a photographer, I could have done it anytime! I was putting it off until I took my oldest son’s senior pictures. I can remember the first family picture we took after Tyler’s accident. It was very important that we took this new family picture for the new chapter of our life in an extra special way. Our picture was taken in October of 2013, just two short months after the accident.

We planned to have our picture taken during our favorite time of the day: sunset.

It would be perfect and I assured myself that Tyler would have loved it. My hope was that we would have a beautiful sunset and a sign that he was there. God is good, we had many signs that Tyler was with us. Once we started looking at the pictures, we noticed a sunburst peeking through our arms as the sun was setting. Not to mention how we were bombarded with dragonflies in our pasture during the picture and even captured one in our family photo. And the sunset was amazing! All of these things were signs that Tyler was indeed there with us. So from that day on, I promised I would keep Tyler’s memory alive in our new family pictures somehow, some way.

Unfortunately, remembering our children who are no longer alive makes others uncomfortable and they do not know what to say. For me, it’s easy; Tyler was in our lives for 15 years and now I have nothing. I do not apologize if it makes others feel uneasy.

I am who I am. What makes me happy sometimes makes others uncomfortable.

I have lost a child.

I will not ever have another picture-perfect Mother’s Day like 2013.

I have learned to create new Mother’s Day memories.

I will keep talking about Tyler until the day I die.

I celebrate all mothers on this special day.

I just look at Mother’s Day differently.

I share these things because I am not the only one who struggles with Mother’s Day and holidays. Others have lost a child, a mom, a grandma, or a special someone. So remember, the holidays are not always “picture-perfect” for everyone. It is good to be kind to others because you have no idea the battles they are fighting inside.

Just because the picture looks “perfect” does not mean it always is.

You may also like:

To the Loss Mom on Mother’s Day

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

I Changed Overnight When I Lost My Son

Missy Hillmer

My name is Missy Hillmer. I’m married, live in a small town named Palmer, NE and have 3 children. Jake is our oldest who is 19 years old and Gracie is 11 who lives here with us. Tyler which was 15 years on August 20, 2013 is now in Heaven. He was killed in a car accident just 3 short days after his 15th birthday. I am very honest, very real sometimes to the point of not being fun, I guess that’s because I’m a black and white kind of girl. I like to look at the positive in every situation. I really believe there are two ways to look at things. Look for the bad or the good. The “bad” does me no justice and can spiral out of control in a heartbeat. The “good” however gives me hope and it connects with my belief that God is with me through everything. I believe my faith has gotten me through life and especially since my son’s accident. I pray a lot more, watch for the signs that God gives me, listen to my inner gut feeling, as my husband calls it and really focus on living a simple life. Family means everything to me, I love to laugh and think it’s the best medicine for any problem. Music soothes my sole and being outside in the sun brings me great joy! I have learned that many times you cannot control the storm in your life but, you can learn to dance in the rain. I really mean it when I say DANCE in the RAIN! The summer before Tyler’s accident, Tyler, Gracie & I danced in the rain. This memory I will never forget! Since Tyler’s accident I am passionate about telling my story with the hope that it will help or inspire at least one person.