It’s 10am and I hear my husband’s phone ring. Before he picks up, I already know who is on the other end. His father calls often, but today, on this day, he never forgets.
It’s not my husband’s birthday.
It’s not a holiday.
It’s a day that has marked longing and ache for the past 15 years— the day his mother died.
Every year on this day my father-in-law intentionally calls to check in, to ask how my husband is doing and see if he needs anything. When my husband feels like talking, they talk. And on years he feels quiet and less engaged, they make it short and simple. Either way, it’s a display of solidarity and a comfort my husband appreciates.
He always knows that call is coming. He knows his father will show up for him on this day marked by mourning and loss. He knows that they’ll never forget this day and what it signifies. After all, it’s carved into stone with his mother’s name.
Today they talk as I’m cuddled up next to him. I’m awe of his strength and resiliency. The many years of holding grief have built a man with grit, patience, and the ability to enjoy and appreciate life. He’d probably tell you that grief has been one of his greatest burdens and also one of his greatest gifts.
In the harshest of ways it showed him the fragility of life. It taught him how to stay present in the moment and find the life he dreamed of instead of the easy one laid out in front of him.
It taught him vulnerability.
It taught him empathy.
And more than anything it taught him the intensity of losing a mother.
He misses her. They all do.
He always has a space where someone is missing. They all do.
And so, the phone rings every year on this day, no matter what— always.
It’s his father’s way of showing up, no matter how many years have passed.
It’s a simple and priceless act of love.
It’s a call that says, “I know what this date signifies. I know the weight that it brings. I know the name and influence on your mind today in a way of longing instead of joy. And I am here for you, in the remembrance and the pain. I love you and I’m here.”
And it comforts him.
And it makes him feel loved.
And they end their call, still holding grief and loss but also holding love and hope too. And it’s a beautiful thing.
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.