An Estimate of Life

December 10, 2019

I listened then yelled, “What does that mean? How long do you have?” I can still hear the soft way she said “one to two years.” 

I cried. I panicked. I couldn’t speak. There were no words to describe the shock and pain of hearing your mother state she has one to two years left to live. She’s 57. Not 87. How could this be? 

I refused to believe it. They are wrong. She’s been an overcomer time and time again, they must not know what she’s made of. Where do they even come up with these numbers? These estimates of life left to live? 

It didn’t matter where the numbers came from. In the end, the estimates were wrong. Wrong in the most heartbreaking ways.

We didn’t get two years. We didn’t even make it to one. We got four months. Four months and our world shattered. 

We had two good months. Mom still herself and living fiercely. The last two months were a blur of hospital visits and denial. Even at the end, I’m not sure I ever really understood or accepted she was dying.

So much pain in a number. So much denial in an estimate. Only to be completely inaccurate in all the worst ways. 

To this day I can still see her, sitting with me at my kitchen table, delivering the news in the humblest of ways. Staying strong, in faith and in love. I was neither of those things. I was broken and weak. I was slowly shattering into pieces of fear and utter despair. 

I never knew the pain in a number until that day. I never knew the weight of an estimation or the debilitating way that numbers could knock the wind out of you. 

There is power in numbers. There is also heartbreak. 

The truth is, we don’t know how long we get. Not even the estimates of esteemed doctors can guess the amount of life we get to live. What will you do with your days, your months, your years?

I hope to live and die like my mother, loving fiercely until the end, consumed by faith and the hope for eternal life. Leaving behind a legacy of love so strong, it’s impossible to forget her influence and her smile. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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