The Difference in a “Hi Mom!”

January 19, 2022

I sit in the corner booth sipping my coffee, lost in thoughts of my endless to-do list. I hear a phone ring which brings me back to reality and this moment. The young girl next to me answers charismatically with a “Hi Mom!” and with those simple words I’m gutted. With those two words I’m no longer alone in this booth, for now grief is sitting across from me, an unwanted guest. 

The space that grief occupies used to be a seat my mother would fill. Now that she’s in heaven, her presence is only one I can feel rather than see. A few minutes after the ring of the cell phone I watch as a middle-aged woman walks in and embraces the girl sitting close to me. The “Hi Mom!” has now transformed into a loving embrace and what is sure to be an enjoyable mother-daughter breakfast. I stare at them full of heartbreak and longing. In a moment where I hadn’t initially been missing my mother, now I am. Grief is fickle like that. 

I sat in this booth alone and now I sit here staring at the invisible guest that has shown up unexpectedly. Since losing my mother, grief has become a constant visitor. One I wasn’t expecting this morning. I sit here delicately watching the interactions of the booth next to mine. I watch as they smile and laugh. I watch as the mother eyes her daughter with pride and elation. I take notice of the daughter’s carefree attitude and the sense of comfort she feels in the moment. 

I’m in awe. I shouldn’t be watching and listening but I am. I’m not sure if it’s because it makes me desperately miss my mother or because I’m so glad that this stranger still gets to experience the one-of-a-kind love of her mother. Either way, my heart is filled with both gratitude and grief. 

This girl’s “Hi Mom!” led to a mother-daughter breakfast. Mine would result in a one-sided conversation staring at my mother’s picture on a headstone. The differences in these “Hi Mom!’s” is extraordinary. 

This girl says “Hi Mom!” while staring at her mother’s face.

I say “Hi Mom!” while looking at a carved stone set in dirt.

This girl says “Hi Mom!” with a hug to follow.

I say “Hi Mom!” while tears stream down my face, unable to feel the embrace of my mother.

This girl says “Hi Mom!” with a woman taking a seat beside her.

I say “Hi Mom!” while looking up to the sky and hoping this salute can be heard from heaven. 

I wonder if women with living mothers ever think about women like me, with mothers in heaven. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to witness these types of exchanges without feeling like someone is carving a hole in my heart. I wonder if I’ll ever stop being surprised by the way grief shows up. 

Most of all, I wonder if I’ll ever get used to my heaven sent “Hi Mom!” 

xox, Chels

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2 comments so far.

2 responses to “The Difference in a “Hi Mom!””

  1. Gayle says:

    You say exactly how I feel

  2. Denise Simpson says:

    That describes exactly how I feel. You wrote it so beautifully.

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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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