I Can’t

November 11, 2022

I’m tired of carrying the weight of grief and I’ve only just begun to hold it. It’s still so new, so fresh, I’m surprised I’m able to name it. 

I’m tired of the darkness and the emptiness caused by an untimely death. I’m broken and lonely and wondering how life keeps moving forward for everyone around me when my world has been shattered and my future rewritten, all without my consent. 

I sit on the floor, crying and breathless. 

I want to get up but I can’t. 

I want to stop crying but I can’t. 

I want to change the past and prevent her death, but I can’t. 

I sink even deeper into the cold, hard, tile as I cry and scream and repeat, “I can’t do this. I can’t survive this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

Hopelessly, I whisper, “I just can’t.”

And as my body is sprawled across the floor and my tears leave puddles beneath me, I think of the words that keep escaping from my mouth, “I can’t.” The only words my mind seems to have kept, which oddly enough are words I can’t ever remember my mother saying. 

I’m not sure of one day or time or moment when I heard my mother say, “I can’t.”

Not when she was asked to do something she didn’t want to.

Not when she was asked to do treatments that would empty her strength and steal her hair. 

Not when she was given a terminal diagnosis.

Now when she buried her own parents or even some of her friends. 

Not when she was faced with devastation or fear.

Not when she was faced with heartbreak or catastrophe.

Not ever. 

I can’t remember one time my mother uttered the words “I can’t.” Yet here I am, with only these words leaving my mouth. 

I become silent, tears still flowing from my eyes, and my body still draped across the bathroom floor.

And I still feel like I can’t, but I know I need to. I need to be like her. I want to be like her. 

So even with the impossible weight of the grief of losing a parent, I can and I must. 

When I feel like I can’t, I must. 

For her. 

Even when I can’t for myself. 

I must, for her. 

For now, I’ll lay here a little longer, catching my breath and regaining my strength, because even though it doesn’t feel like I can, I must. 

I must, for her. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

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.

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