Shooting Hoops & Honoring Grief

August 21, 2020

He’s been running around enjoying the summer sun and warm air. When my spunky boy first sits down next to me, I think nothing of it. My motherly mind assumes he is taking a quick break. It doesn’t take long for me to realize this time something is different. As I glance at his sweaty immature face, I can see the hurt radiating through his eyes. Not the kind of pain that can be mended by a band-aid. It’s the kind of hurt that stems from your heart. 

His paused actions make it noticeable. His green eyes are glazed and there is an emptiness illuminating from them. Before he says a word, I know what’s causing his sudden hurt and reflection. I know him well. So well that if he didn’t say a thing, I’d know what’s on his heart. He can tell my intrigue. He can tell I’ve noticed his emotion and his sudden change of pace. 

“Mom, I miss Memere”. He says what I already know. He misses his grandmother. He has since the moment she left this earth. It doesn’t matter what he does or where he is, he misses her. He thinks of her. I hug him tightly feeling both the sweat and the tears on his little body. As I feel his tears dripping down my arm, mine start flowing too. “I know, I miss her too. Every single day.” I kiss his head, as we both sink in and embrace the emotion and reality of the situation. Grief is an unwanted companion that joined our family the day my mother died. It changed the entire composition of our future and our family. Before I let go, I squeeze him tight, rub the top of his face, the way I’ve done since he was a baby, and I whisper, “I love you.”

Soon, he heads off, back to his outdoor fun and favorite basketball hoop. He wipes his cheeks as he begins to play. My tears are still flowing, my heart still stinging as he makes his first shot. I hate everything about losing my mother, but this, a grieving child, it’s the worst. It’s consuming and complex. 

The hope in moments like this one is the simplicity of the solution. I can’t take his pain. I can simply acknowledge it. I can acknowledge his grief, his hurt, and his emotion. It soothes him and helps him heal. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. I sit with him in his pain, whenever he needs me to. I’d like to say I’m always ready and waiting, but the truth is, his grief is just as unpredictable and unplanned as my own. It shows up when I least expect it, like riding a roller coaster in the fog or entering the unknown of a fearful and terrifying haunted house. You know you will plummet, get scared, and want to scream, you just don’t know when or how. 

As I wipe the tears that remain, I continue watching him. He misses a few shots, and then finally sinks one in from far away. He smiles. He cheers. He looks up and says, “I made it! Yeah!! Memere, I hope you saw that.” And as he says the words, my heart is filled with hope. Even in his pain, even in the midst of grief, he holds hope that his grandmother is always watching, still paying attention from heaven. 

xox, Chels

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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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