Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day came and went and out of all these holidays lining my calendar like minefields since Everett died, Mother’s Day has been at the top of my dreading list.  The tip top.  Maybe it was the double whammy of my mom having died + Everett dying.  Maybe it was the awkward timeframe of being 10 months out from Everett’s death which feels like no time at all for us, but so much time to outsiders meaning they expect we’re all better and we’re really not.  Maybe it was the social media aspect, but mostly I think it was that this time last year just looked so different…felt so different…was so different.  This time last year Everett had really set into his groove and was talking so much and seriously was the most fun and precious, snacking little guy and now he was gone.  Our family will simply never be the same.

I went into Mother’s Day having already decided that next year I would boycott the entire holiday altogether.  These holidays where we tend to celebrate some and forget others, even in the church, is unsettling.  While some celebrate, others cringe and hold their breath waiting for the day to be over.  These celebratory days can be so painful for so many people for so many different reasons.  People feel forgotten, overlooked, unseen, left out, hurt, sad, angry and sometimes the heaviness of the day is just too much.  Our Christiany words we tend to fling toward the broken won’t fix it and what is most needed is the simple sincerity of an “I’m so sorry” and a love filled reminder that the hurting are remembered and not alone.

I went into this day already thinking how much it was going to suck and the minute I opened my eyes Sunday morning I burst into tears.  This day was a heavy one indeed.  What I didn’t see coming was the sweetness it would hold…how this day would really represent sadness and pain and joy and gratefulness really co-minglingly all together.  It would show me yet again this life can be done living out deep grief and deep joy simulatenously.

There was very little for this day that was a must, but I wanted to be very intentional about it including me staying off all social media for the day.  Aside from that I had a super short list of requests:

1. Cemetery visits for Mom and Everett.

2. Flower shopping for our birth moms.

And 3. A giant coke & cherry mixed Icee.

We headed out to my Mom’s graveside first thing in the morning with Fruit Loops and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in tow for breakfast.  I made up a jar of flowers to take with us and loaded milks into a cooler.  Going to her grave is Mother’s Day tradition.  We take a quilt, eat something yummy and the kids run around playing games of tag and hide-n-seek in the cemetery.  Weird?!?  Maybe, but not to the Kelleys.  This is our norm and over the years I have become more and more okay with our kids viewing the cemetery as a place of not only death & sadness, but also of life & joy.

On our way home from Mom’s cemetery we stopped to pick out flowers for all our birthmom’s we honor on Mother’s Day too.  This is a tradition we started several years ago and it has stuck.  Our kiddos with birthmoms pick out any flower or plant they want and we plant them in our yard in their honor.  For our littlest we potted the flowers she picked out and will gift them to her birthmom next time we see her.  This year Harper helped Leo with his selection and Hudson picked out flowers for Everett’s birthmom.  I cried a lot through out the entire day, but this part really got.  I’m insanely grateful to these amazing women who chose life for their children.  They will always be valued and remembered and honored in our house…and not just on Mother’s Day.  Last year sweet Everett stood there holding his little flower.  Josh Kelley noticed it had started to die during the winter season and next thing I knew Josh had moved Everett’s flowers into our warm bathroom and they were blooming in the middle of winter.  They are still going strong.


We ended up eating lunch at home before Josh and the boys headed out to flag football.  I stayed home with everyone else and it was just right.  I was bummed missing the boys’ games, but it was so hot and our littlest and Leo needed naps.  I watched a movie on the couch with the kids and took some time to write.   They played outside in the water and ate popsicles.  When flag football was over I was gifted with a cherry and coke mixed Icee from the Tiger Market…which I swear has the greatest Icee machine around and the Icees are always the perfect consistency.  Icee consistency is a big deal.  Hudson and Solomon also told me how they scored touchdowns just for me on Mother’s Day. 🙂

We ate dinner at home too.  I was totally good with hanging close to home for most of the day, plus my Aunt Peggy’s Bean Burrito recipe for dinner was perfection.  For dessert I chose rainbow sherbet and Sprite at Everett’s grave.  After we finished dinner we headed over to his special place as the sun was headed down and it was the right way to end the day.

I had purchased rainbow flags to hang from the tree in Everett’s area of the cemetery.  I watched Josh Kelley climb up and down his ladder placing flags just so.  I thought about how Josh could easily tell me this was too much work or that I was crazy, but he never has.  He smiles and obliges and never once complains.  He knows this is an outward way I can display my deep love and longing for Everett.

We spread out our quilt and handed out spoons and cups full of rainbow sherbet doused in Sprite.  Everyone ate it all up as the mosquitos ate us up.  The sun was just right.  The moment felt sacred and special and my mind thought how the day had turned out far different than I thought it would.  It hadn’t been all terrible.  I didn’t want to boycott this day next year anymore.  The day had contained some really sweet moments and memories.

I watched as Leo ate every last little drop from his cup and some fell from his spoon onto his leg.  I thought about how lucky I was.  I thought about how much Everett had changed our lives and the lives of so many others.  I thought about how he led us to Leo.  Gratefulness swept over me hard.  All these kiddos from so many different places and with such different stories.  Each of them strong and brave and absolutely unique and incredible in their own way.  They are all loved by so many and honestly I’m just shocked and honored and amazed God would allow me to be their mom.

What I would have given for Everett to be there with us…to hold his little body and hear his little voice and laugh.  It made me cringe and cry at several moments during the day, but I think we’re making him proud.  We all get up each day and take another step closer to seeing him again.  We haven’t given up yet…there’s still hope floating around…and we’re still loving him and one another madly.


  1. Camilla says:

    Nice way to do Mother’s Day. I HATE Mother’s Day EVERY YEAR!
    But you did good with it under your circumstances!

  2. Julie H says:

    I’m glad you were able to mix some sweetness in with the tears. You are right, Mother’s Day is never the same once you have lost your Mom. Losing a child ( even adult) is just awful and I know it always be. I’m on the same road as you are just a little farther along.
    I know those we have lost would be proud of how we honor them with or life and even in the tears!
    As always, I love your transparency and honesty. I love reading about your sweet family and seeing the pictures; and the stories of Everett!
    Much love and prayers to the Kelley Family.

  3. Beautiful, just beautiful. So much love and hugs to you – you are just so inspiring, mama!

  4. Elizabeth Orr says:

    Have enjoyed keeping up with your blog. Been happy along with your happiest and sad with your sad.
    Ummm not sure but did you forget to blot out little girls face where they are sitting on headstone.
    Think it’s awesome that the children don’t fear being in a cemetery.

  5. Thank you for sharing your life (good and bad). Your words and photos make me feel like I knew little Everett and in eternity, I will. I see your pain and feel your pain. It makes walking along side others going through this a little more insightful. It sucks, but God is using you and your family to speak to so many.

  6. I love your honesty. I can’t imagine doing Mothers Day when you are longing to have all your kiddos with you here on earth. The picture with the sunbeams on you, Harper, and Leo gave me chills. Those beams were definitely Everett giving you a big hug. Always praying for you guys

Leave A Comment