Nothing makes you more grateful for your mom than becoming a mom. And nothing makes you more grateful for your child than losing a child. Since the passing of our son Myles in September, I have been amazed by two things. One, how isolating the loss of a child can be since it’s not a common experience for most. But at the same time, I’ve been struck by the courage of those few who have experienced this and their intense vulnerability to tell their stories.
I opened my mailbox on a sunny day last week and sat on my front step, flipping through a book from Buckeystown resident Michele Martin, who said the springtime had made her think of our son. Today I spoke with Martin, who talked about how the journey of motherhood has brought her both joy and pain. Martin has had six pregnancies but only one living child — Jesse, a 10-year-old at Urbana Elementary School, who has an incredibly big heart, trading her birthday party this past year for a fundraiser for the The Frederick County Animal Control.
But before Jesse, there were four miscarriages and a stillborn baby, Heather, born in early November 2001. Martin talks through tears about the moment she held her little girl.
“God gave me her for a reason — for hope, for dreams, for perseverance. I think she had more to teach me than I would ever have been able to give her,” Martin said, adding that Heather brought her family the incredible gift of perseverance in the midst of an excruciating series of losses.
“It is not a club you would ever want to be part of,” Martin said of losing children, “but the beauty of this journey is the people you meet. Families that look like they have a perfect life, but you never know how deeply they have been touched by pain and how it connects them as a community. It bonds us in such a wonderful way.”
Through her work as a hospice nurse, Martin has been trained in grief counseling and she talks about how her loss has shaped her as a woman and a mom. Heather’s foot prints and hand prints are framed in her home and she is still a vivid part of the family’s journey. They often talk about Heather and Heaven and loved ones with her, which includes Jesse’s friend and facilities manager at Good Shepherd Church Chuck Lounsbury (“Mr. Chuck”), who passed last March. These conversations are “part of God’s journey for us,” Martin said.
As Mother’s Day approaches, there is so much life to celebrate for both Martin (and for my little family), but as she puts it, “there still is that tug.”
This month, Sally Alt talked to a Villages of Urbana couple who also experienced difficulty as parents. Kelson and Samantha Baker had their daughter Camille prematurely at just 2 pounds, 6 ounces; she was 10 weeks early. The Bakers said they were shaped by this experience, so they volunteer in the March of Dimes walk each year, which works to prevent premature births and helps women have healthy babies. This year, the March of Dimes walk was held at the Urbana District Park on April 25. To read the Baker’s whole story, flip to the front page.
Also notable this issue is the summertime section on page 12 where I provide a sampling of family activities and summer camps for kids in our area. I hope this piece helps provide a fun structure for memorable family times this summer or a guide to grab if a weekend or weekday schedule is free. May is a great month for events right in our neighborhood and across Frederick County. Flip to page 17 for a list of events and also turn to page 8 for event information on a Community Restaurant on May 15 to benefit the Greater Urbana Area Food Bank.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240.409.6734 with suggestions of community members to highlight in future issues, or send pictures of your summertime shenanigans as we finally launch into warm weather! Take time to stop and celebrate life, as well, and communicate gratefulness to the woman who raised you this Mother’s Day. Have a wonderful month!