I will not cry. I will not cry. These are the words I repeat to myself as I sit in the corner booth of my favorite coffee shop. This is typically my safe space, the place I retreat to work and write and think. Today, I happened to sit next to a mother-daughter duo engulfed in planning a wedding. It’s beautiful to witness, but also heartbreaking and stirring emotions inside of me that usually don’t come out over coffee and the presence of strangers.
I sit here staring at my screen, frozen, silently repeating words over and over again to regain composure and prevent grief from overpowering me. These women, one quite young and one older and certainly more seasoned, are both smiling while planning the details for the upcoming special occasion– the same celebration my mother missed by just a few short months.
My mother’s chair remained empty during my wedding. She never made it. She helped me plan a wedding that she’d never see. She’d helped me choose a dress that she’d never help me zip up or put on. She missed my big day, my wedding.
As I overhear the conversations taking place by the women beside me, it’s like I’ve been sprinkled with reminiscence and grief and pain and joy and the delicate reminder of the gift that mothers are. I want to tell them that one day they’ll reminisce about these moments that seem mundane, but my grief lessons do not need to be theirs. I want to tell them to appreciate one another and their priceless bond, but my lessons in loss do not need to steal the thrill from this moment.
My perspective of having a heart wide-open, messy, and complicated from an unimaginable loss, doesn’t need to be their awakening or memory shift. This grief is mine, and it will stay mine– silent but mighty, decorated with tears, but otherwise tucked away from the world and my bystanders.
So, I sit and I pray and I type as tears stream down my eyes. And I think about my own mother. And it makes me miss her so fiercely. But it also makes me so grateful that I was able to see her through the bond of this mother-daughter duo. I’m sitting here feeling delicate and vulnerable and hurting, but only because I saw myself in them. And it’s actually a beautiful thing because what I see when I look at them is love.
I see connection.
I see joy.
I see comfort and encouragement.
I see acceptance and honesty.
I see laughs and smiles.
I see a powerful and undeniable love.
And if those are the things that bring me to tears thinking about my mother, I’ll take them– knowing that my grief is powered by my mother and all of her greatness.
Sitting here at this coffee shop, life just reminded me that while my mother isn’t here, she was the best kind of mother there is. The kind that feels like home and blends everything together like glue. The kind that leaves an influence and legacy worthy of the tears and ache it comes with.
And now, instead of repeating “I will not cry,” I simply cry. I let the tears fall. And I know it’s because I was blessed with the greatest kind of mother— her.
My mother– someone certainly worthy of the pain of missing her.
A 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.