The Pain in “Was”

November 17, 2019

My daughter approached me with homework. It was a simple project. “Write about what you want to be when you grow up.” 

An assignment I’m sure almost every parent has seen at least once in their child’s stack of to-do’s. 

This time, it was different. 

My sweet girl started brainstorming and writing her thoughts down on paper. I let her get lost in ideas and patiently waited for her to finish. 

Her answer shouldn’t have been a surprise, except my heart wasn’t ready. Or, maybe my heart was in denial. 

Either way, the words flowed effortlessly from her mouth as she read, “I want to be a baker because my grandma was. I want to own a bakery and make her recipes.” 

It was adorable, but it stung. 

It was the replacement of the word IS with the word WAS

You see, my daughter’s grandmother lives in heaven. So now, the is is replaced with was, always. Not by choice, but out of necessity and truth. 

It’s such a simple replacement but it’s heartbreaking. An immediate punch to the gut, to the soul. A simple replacement that shows past instead of present. A simple replacement that shows we are left with old memories, unable to make new ones. 

Have you ever thought about how one word can change an entire meaning, an entire heart?

It’s such a simple replacement. One that her teacher may not even notice. So subtle that others may not be able to read the hurt in her heart and in her words. 

There was pain in her “was”. Would you have noticed? 

There was love, admiration, and inspiration in there too, but would you have noticed the hurt in the “was”? The tenderness in the past tense?

Read carefully, friends. Listen intently. Pay attention to the details. Someone may be telling you a story with uncomplicated words and phrases. A story that when read carefully, explains a person’s heart, a person’s love, a person’s journey. 

Oh, and the blessing in the assignment, my daughter wants to be like my mother when she grows up. The beauty is that she already is. 

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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