A friend and I started a mother/daughter movie night with our biggest girls. We thought it was time to introduce them to the world of chick flicks, the classics, if you will. One afternoon, as I emptied the dishwasher, I told my daughter we chose Steel Magnolias as our first selection. She replied, “What is that? Like, a movie about superheroes?” I stood there, fistful of forks suspended in mid-air, stunned into silence.
Clearly, I have been remiss. It’s time she had a proper education.
We ate nachos and red velvet cupcakes, while the girls giggled under a blanket together. My friend and I sat with tissues at the ready, crying through the most emotional scenes, laughing through others. I couldn’t stop the flow of tears during the scene at Shelby’s graveside, where Ouiser, Clairee, and Truvy surround Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn, as she openly grieves. They listen, they say stupid things, they laugh and cry and mourn together.
I looked at my daughter, who averted her eyes as she let out an uncomfortable giggle. I wanted to shout and point at the screen and say, “Yes, you were right! Do you see? They are superheroes!” Instead, I looked away and wiped my cheeks with my bare fingers. She will learn, the way all women do, that our capacity for love is discovered only when we realize just how many holes need filling.
A few weeks later, my little one’s teacher lost her twenty-four year old son. As one of the classroom moms, I attended the family’s open visitation. She stood in the receiving line wearing a black dress I’ve seen her wear in the classroom, and the sight of that familiar black dress and her question to me, ” How are my kids?” shred my heart into a million little pieces. I imagined her standing in front of her closet that morning, pulling out the dress she wore to teach my daughter on an ordinary day, knowing there is no more ordinary. Her days have a gaping wound ripped right through them.
She is back in the classroom, and she is giving me and every mother out there a real life education. She shows up in her everyday clothes, but I know beneath them she hides her superhero status. The big red S covers a heart with a hole in need of filling. Sometimes I want to avert my eyes, because it’s painful to watch loss unfold. But, I keep watching and waiting for the day when our own Savior gathers these mother heroes to his breast. Until then, we mourn together for a world spinning upside down on its axis. Nothing is as it should be when mothers bury their children.