Push to Stop

March 5, 2021

I’m riding the stationary bike, working off not only calories, but emotion too. I’m lost in thought, prayer and productive intentions. Thinking about how much my life has changed in the (almost) four years that my mother has been gone. 

As sweat and tears drip from my body, I look down. I notice a big red button on the bike, a bike I’ve been riding for months. This button isn’t new but I’ve never paid it much attention until now. In white letters it reads: Push to stop. 

I  find myself reading the big red button again: Push to stop. 

I’m intrigued by this button and message, like some sort of easy button, a button for emergencies and for quick saving. 

I look at it with both laughter and dismay. If only grief had this button. A button to quickly save hearts and provide immediate relief for the soul. An immediate fix, just like this button.

I’m sure no one else has ridden this bike, looked at this red knob, and reflected on grief. I’m unique and quirky like that. Since losing my mother random moments and objects become riddled with contemplation and reflection. 

This button has such a simple message but in this moment such complex wondering is found when I stare at it. 

At the beginning of grief I would have gladly hit this button! I would have gladly stopped the moment, the future, the pain, the heartbreak, and certainly the harsh reality of my mother’s death and forever absence. 

And now, years later, while I’d do anything to have her back, I wouldn’t do anything to stop the becoming and transformations that were created through grief. 

I’ve learned things, both joyful and debilitating. I’ve changed, in so many glorious and painful ways. I’ve seen things that have opened my heart even wider than the hole created when she left. I’ve grown through the pain and I’ve been repurposed by the experience.

You can’t stop grief, which is both a blessing and a curse. I could never have imagined the gifts that would come from experiencing the pain, embracing the ache, and acknowledging my future. 

Would you push a button to stop the pain if you knew it would stop the love too?

Would you push a button to stop the ache if you knew it would stop the memories too?

Would you push a button to stop the longing if you knew it would stop their legacy too?

I’d do anything to have my mother back, but since it’s a reality that cannot be achieved I will choose to keep all the complexities that come with grief. I choose not to hit the “push to stop” button knowing that all of the mess, destruction, and heartbreak come from a great love and relationship, and I wouldn’t want anything to change that beautiful gift. 

While this bike has an immediate fix, an instantaneous lifesaver, and a quick solution should catastrophe occur, grief does not, and would you really want it to? Sometimes that immense pain is a reminder that we loved with such great intensity that we will always feel the sting of its absence. Sometimes that ache is a reminder for the relationship that blessed our lives in immeasurable ways. 

When you find yourself looking for an easy button or a “push to stop”, lean in, acknowledge that feeling, and then ask yourself: why do I hurt? Why am I broken and shattered and transformed? 

And the answer will always be love, beautiful, life-changing, and irreplaceable love. 

I choose to keep all of the complexities of grief because it means I also get to keep all of the one-of-a-kind and priceless delicacies of love too. 

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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