Taylor Swift, a celebrity, a stranger. A woman I’ve never met, and most likely never will, yet my soul feels connected to her in ways most people could never understand. You see, I’ve walked pieces of her path. A woman waking each morning with the pain and heartbreak of a sick mother. Dare I say, the pain and heartbreak of a dying mother.
I listen to the melody and lyrics of the grief that pours from Taylor’s soul. She puts her ache and pain in music. Knowing someone else’s pain connects you.
She sings, “You’ll get better soon, cause you have to.” Daughters with mothers in heaven feel this. We’ve had these same prayers and delusions. We’ve cried, we’ve prayed, we’ve hoped, we’ve dismissed and we’ve denied. The beauty is that sometimes they did get better. The debilitating torment is that one day they no longer do.
She sings, “This won’t go back to normal.” Honest truth. It doesn’t. It becomes hospital visits, chemo appointments, and illness that plagues almost everything to come. If there ever was a normal, there won’t be anymore. Things change with each second, each moment, and each blink of an eye. Now normal is the constant sting and fear that walks with you with each step and each new day.
She sings, “It’s been years of hoping.” Hope stays, even when it shouldn’t. It will stay until the very second she’s gone. Doctors give her less time, you remain hopeful. She loses weight, loses mobility, and even loses breath, yet you still hope fiercely that things change. You won’t stop hoping, ever. Even after she’s gone.
She sings, “What am I supposed to do, if there’s no you?” A complicated answer you’ll discover with time. Serendipitously, you will find pieces of her sprinkled everywhere. It’s not the same, but it provides joy and comfort. She will grace you with her love and presence in unique and meaningful ways, even if only fragments of your imagination and heart.
She sings, “I just pretend it isn’t real.” It hits me in the gut. You’ll always pretend it isn’t real. Even when you visit her grave. Even years after her death, always.
The only redeeming quality for Taylor and every woman walking with the ache of a fading mother is simple and harsh. Soon she WILL get better. Free of pain and free of illness. But also, free of this world and far from you. It will ache with an intensity like you’ve never known. It will never heal, nor go away. It will simply transform with time, adding more remembrance than devastation, more joy than sorrow, and more hope for the day you’ll meet her in eternity.
Mothers are special, grief will reinforce this.
With each line, each melody, and each heart-filled chorus, my heart recognizes and acknowledges the ache of a fading mother, and even deeper, the impending loss of a fading mother. Today I’m intentional with my prayers and thoughts. I’m intentional with my hopes and wishes. I pray and wish and hope for more days and moments and memories for those with delicate mothers. Those prayers and hopes are no longer realistic for me, so I will fiercely wish this for them. And when the hope and wishes and prayers no longer have realistic outcomes, I’ll welcome them with an empathetic and aching heart, to a community of women with mothers in heaven.
You’ll get better, but it won’t be soon, and it won’t be easy. You’ll get better, because you have to.
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.