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Each year, since my only child, Darren, died, I have dreaded the approach of Mother's Day. This is the only time that I will ever say that having no surviving children is worse. I dread the day, I avoid the day, I ignore the day, and you could probably say, I hate the day. If my mother were alive, she would understand if I did not send her a card. I can't go near the card rack at this time of year. Actually, I try to avoid them most of the time, because I don't want to see "Happy Birthday Mom" or "Happy Birthday Son", either.

When I began The Place for ANGEL HUGS a few years ago, just before Mother's Day, I was determined to offer something positive to help us get through that day. I came up with a plan for something special for us moms who have no children remaining on Earth. I suggested we hang ribbons from our mailboxes, denoting the fact that we would receive no cards this year. (more on that below)

A Mothers Day Greeting From My Son

Following my own suggestion, I hung red and white ribbons from the mailbox. I usually use these colors as they are Darren's high school colors. Also, I added a white silk rose. The white rose is Darren's fraternity's flower. On Mothers Day, I met a friend, another angel mom, for dinner. I made it through the waitress asking us if we were mothers, before giving us each a carnation. The day had already been a struggle for me. We had our dinner and then went out to my car where I had several helium filled balloons on which I had written the names of some very special angels.

We released the balloons at sunset in the gloomy rain. Read more on the balloons at sunset for ALL ANGEL MOMS below.

Still, I had no good feelings about the day and thought, "Oh well, I tried," as I drove on home.

I stopped at the mailbox, which is at the end of a very long driveway, and took off the ribbons and the rose and threw them in the car. Immediately I smelled the strong odor of roses. I don't even particularly like the smell of roses. It was overwhelming! I picked up the silk rose and sniffed it, thinking maybe scent was added. It wasn't that. I reached the top of the driveway on this rainy, cloudy night and when I got out of the car, I looked up and saw a small hole in the clouds. In that little hole was a huge star and I knew, it was blinking especially for me! With tears, I said, "Thank you Darren for your Mothers Day wish for me and the bouquet of roses," and walked on into the house with a smile, at last.

I am not, normally, one of the lucky parents who receive messages from their children. I do believe in angel hugs, however, but they have been less distinct. That year was the best Mother's Day I have had since Darren's death. Hopefully, he will do something special for me this year. I will hang the ribbons again this year and send him a balloon at sunset with another angel mom or two and hope to find myself smiling by bedtime.

Suggestions for ALL ANGEL MOMS

During the day write a letter to your angel. Pour your heart out! I bawled buckets of tears as I wrote last year. Get a helium filled balloon (actually, 3 baloons lift better), write your child's name on it and attach your letter to the ribbon. Release the balloon at SUNSET wherever you are. You can get others in your family involved with this.

Remember, you don't have to do the ordinary Mothers Day things. You don't have to go to church, you don't have to go out to dinner and you don't even have to go to your mother's house. This is your day, too and you are allowed to spend it in any way that is more comfortable for you. If you want, you can stay home, read a great book and don't even look up all day.

You could get out a present your child gave you from a previous Mothers Day, or even a card. So what if it makes you cry. So what!

A great suggestion from last year was to write down what you would do on Mothers Day if your child were still here. And, because it is only in your heart, be as elaborate and imaginative as you like. You could save these Mothers Day adventures from year to year.

Another angel mom wrote to stress how very important it is to remember and share time with the children many are lucky enough to still have. She makes sure her surviving daughters know that the brother they lost was not their mom's only reason for living.

Another mother wrote that members of her grief group with no surviving children meet at the cemetery for a picnic and tell stories of their children.

One thing I started last year that a friend suggested was to buy myself a Mother's Day present from my lost daughter, Shannon. Shannon so loved sunflowers and I ordered six huge sunflower stepping stones that are in the raised garden by our swimming pool. They give me so much comfort each time I walk on them...I talk to Shannon then and thank her for the gift. This year I have ordered a sunflower windsock that has little ladybugs on it. It will hang by the pool so I can see it from my office window as I sit at my computer. It took me five years to be able to do this, but I am so glad I did. I can just see my precious Shannon smiling...she so loved to give me gifts. I'll try to take some pictures of the sunflower stepping stones and the windsock to send you although I don't have one special place for my Angel is all over. Yes, Spring is bringing a little sunshine into my life...I have been spending lots of time gardening and taking care of my's so therapeutic...I love all the butterflies and birds. I am still taking it one step at a time...a few steps forward, then some is a horrible roller coaster of emotions.

It is Mothers Day, we are all mothers, do what works the best for you. I will put the ribbons on the mailbox on Saturday and I will write Darren a letter on Sunday and I will release it with a balloon at sunset. I will try again to get through this special day. But, I will still avoid the card racks, the gift displays and not even glance at the newspaper ads. And, I know the best Mothers Day ever, is yet to come. Perhaps everyday is Mothers Day in heaven.

My love and hugs to all of you, Julane





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