I Had It All Wrong

December 7, 2022

I had it wrong when I thought she was invincible. She’d always fixed my wounds and even my many broken hearts so I assumed she was the ultimate fixer, the ultimate healer, with powers only a mother can embrace and utilize– like she was my very own superhero.

I had it wrong when I thought she’d never leave, or at least that first she’d have wrinkles and gray hair. I always assumed you get to keep your parents until they’ve retired and experienced an entire lifetime. I never imagined she’d leave before she could work less and live more. 

I had it wrong when I kept thinking we had more time, that doctors were wrong and her diagnosis was inaccurate. After all, how could someone as faithful and as kind as her run out of new moments and memories? How can someone be forced to go before she was ready, before any of us were ready? Time seems quickest when you’re losing someone irreplaceable.

I had it wrong when I failed to accept the signs of her demise and eventually her death, even as I was suffocating from both of them. I refused to accept any truth that included her being eliminated from our futures. I refused to accept any reality that didn’t include every single piece of her. 

Oh, how I had it all wrong.

I had it wrong when I thought I knew what love was. The most delicate and powerful acts of love appear when you’re watching final breaths and holding the hand of someone who’s heart stops beating. The most selfless love I’ve experienced happened when I told her it was ok to go, while completely betraying my own heart and desires. 

I had it wrong when I thought I couldn’t live without her. The bewilderment of grief is that it’s survivable, even when it doesn’t feel like it. That’s both a blessing and a burden. It means you remain but with a heavy and invisible weight that shifts, always unbalanced and unpredictable. Continued living feels like both a priceless gift and also like abandonment for someone who no longer can. 

I had it wrong when I thought I knew what grief was and what it felt like. It’s hard to truly know something that’s unpredictable, completely invisible, and radically unique to each person. It’s hard to know something that is misunderstood and rarely talked about, instead covered with cliches and platitudes. It’s hard to know what something feels like when it changes with each moment and each new day, something no one ever told me. 

Oh, how I had it all wrong.

I had it all wrong, so so so wrong. But how do you get something like this right? How do you comprehend something incomprehensible, even while living it? 

I had it all wrong when I thought that my mom would still be here.

I had it wrong when I thought time was on our side.

I had it wrong when I thought I knew what grief would feel like or how powerful it was. 

Oh, how I had it all wrong.

xox, Chels

2 comments so far.

2 responses to “I Had It All Wrong”

  1. Charlotte says:

    I lost my Mum 3 years ago and I still struggle immensely with the pain, the way you express the pain and feelings is how I exactly feel, I didn’t think it was possible to put into words like you have, it’s so powerful and comforting that it’s normal to feel this pain and loss.. and yes it’s because we’ve loved so deeply. God I miss my Mum.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and also your loss through words of expression, I’m sure it will help others like me xx

  2. Michelle Renee Henderson says:

    Every word written can’t describe how shattered the world is after the loss of a parent.

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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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