“She Leaves Behind a Daughter”

August 26, 2022

“She leaves behind a daughter.” 

Those are the words that stop me from continuing. The words in the middle of the obituary that somehow have stolen my breath and caused an ache in my stomach. I’ve read dozens of obituaries in my lifetime, I’ve even written one, so this reaction comes as a surprise. 

She leaves behind a daughter– words that signify a mother who has left this world too soon.

She leaves behind a daughter- words that signify the reality that now a daughter remains here, motherless. 

Words that hold brutal truth and harsh emptiness. Words that have been printed with my mother’s obituary and my name attached. Words that I know all too well.

“She leaves behind a daughter.”

And that’s exactly what it feels like. Like you’ve been left behind. Like for the first time in your life your guide and your protector is suddenly gone. Like you’re left standing here with holes in your soul and a future that’s had the biggest influence erased from it. Like you’ve been placed in foreign land, unable to speak or move or breathe. Like a daughter left behind.

She leaves behind a daughter.

Not just any daughter, her daughter– raised in her faithfulness and grown by her love. A daughter that to the world appears a grown woman but inside feels like a child, and dare I say an orphan. 

She leaves behind a daughter. 

And the truth is, she leaves behind so much more than that. She leaves behind memories that will never happen, experiences that will never occur, and moments that have been stolen from both her and everyone she loved. She leaves behind so many things…the greatest of all is of course her influence and legacy. 

She leaves behind a daughter. 

Oh, how I feel the heartbreak of this statement, but the longer I stare at those five words, the longer I realize they simply are not true. She did not leave behind a daughter, none of our mothers did. 

They did not leave behind a daughter. They journeyed to eternity before we did. They didn’t leave us behind, they simply went first– to eternity, to heaven, to the place after this one. They didn’t leave us behind, even though sometimes it feels that way. 

They went ahead. They went first. And they wait. They didn’t ‘leave behind a daughter’. They loved us too beautifully for that. The only thing they left behind was a legacy and an unforgettable influence. 

“She leaves behind a daughter”– words I’ll never quite look at the same and maybe you shouldn’t either.

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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