A Chapel and Prayers

March 8, 2021

The wooden sign said “Chapel”, with tears and without hesitation I walked in. It was dark and oddly peaceful, unlike the rest of the hospital. 

I knelt on the bench and released everything I’d been holding tightly to for hours. My mother had needed lifesaving surgery to rid her body from the cancer that was overtaking it. She was now hooked up to endless machines that beeped and breathed for her. 

The doctors tried to prepare us for this reality but even the pamphlets, discussions, and videos didn’t come close to comprehending the vision of our mother like this. 

I was terrified with every second that we allowed the machines to help her live and in desperation for the nurses who assisted with that process. Even the most traumatic and emotional hospital television shows couldn’t accurately depict this feeling of disbelief, horror and fear. 

I cried and prayed and spoke out loud to God or anyone else that might be listening. I begged. I pleaded. I desperately asked for healing and a miracle. 

Eventually, weeks later, after unexplainable anxiousness and emotion, those prayers were answered. My mother came home with deep scars to prove the battle she’d been fighting. I drove her home joyful for the gift of more days and a cancer free mother. 

Years would pass before cancer entered her body again. More prayers. More pleading and begging and demanding that she be saved again. And in time, she was. Temporarily. 

Years later, it came back again, this time unable to be contained or controlled. This time, it would kill her. It would steal her from our futures and change our lives forever. 

I lost faith in God and lost hope in prayers. I hated the thought of a God that wouldn’t save my mother. I turned my life away from church and stopped believing in a greater power. 

I believed for years that my prayers were unanswered and that faith was only an act of desperation. I went against everything I was taught and everything my mother lived by.

Absent of faith, absent of hope, absent of believing….until just days ago, nearly four years after my mother had passed. 

Yes, my mother had passed away and my final prayers went unanswered, but the ones for the ten years before that were always graciously answered and gifted. 

For ten years prayers were answered, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed or celebrated. What if her time was supposed to be up during that first hospital visit? What if it was supposed to fade with the second diagnosis or even the third? Instead, transformed into a new path because of fierce prayers and constant requests for more time. 

Yes, I had unanswered prayers, but I sure had a lot of answered prayers too. My mother beat the odds for a very long time, and that surely can’t be a coincidence. Of course not. 

Those were answered prayers, acknowledged hopes and dreams of keeping her as long as we could. 

Looking back, it’s easier to see the additional years we are gifted, even though we desperately wanted more. No amount of time would have been enough, we’d never stop praying for a miracle. While I wish my final prayer would have been answered and that I’d be able to sit here today and tell stories of a miracle, I’m able to reflect and celebrate the answered prayers. The ones that gave us additional time, memories, and love. 

I never knew the influence of an unanswered prayer and how it could make you immensely thankful for all of the answered ones, especially the ones I didn’t realize were answered until years later. 

Were you gifted answered prayers that you took for granted? It took me years, but I realized not all of my ‘asks’ went unanswered. I’m thankful for all of the answered prayers I failed to recognize earlier in the journey. 

xox, Chels

You might also enjoy:

A Prayer More than a Prophecy

The Day I Stopped Praying for Her to Live

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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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