The “I Have Never’s”

August 5, 2021

My mother passed away several years ago. Since the day she left my mind and heart have been flooded with the “I have never’s.” 

Those very specific regrets, those newly targeted wants, those things you desperately wished for that you never got. The “I have never’s”. 

Grief wraps your heart with an infinite list of unfilled wishes, unattainable hopes and limitless regrets. A heart and soul immediately filled with a list of “I have never’s.”

I have never seen my mother hold my son.

I have never seen my mother attend a “Grandparent’s Day” celebration.

I have never seen my mother retire. 

I have never seen my mother covered in wrinkles and grey hair.

I have never seen my mother walk into my house as I host a holiday get together. 

I have never seen my mother enter her 60’s or earn a senior citizens discount.

I have never seen my mother get to know and love the woman that I became in adulthood. 

So many “I have never’s” which are really just harsh “never will’s”. Things I’ll never get to experience as a daughter. Things she’ll never get to experience as a mother, grandmother and so much more. Things I will never experience in this life. 

I never understood the fragility of life until I lost my mother. 

I never understood the delicacy of time until I lost my mother.

I never understood the power of a moment until I lost my mother.

Grief taught me those brutal truths. 

My mother died and I suddenly became attached to a growing list of “I have never’s” and a debilitating list of “never will’s”. 

If you live with grief I’m sure you have your own list of the “never had’s” and the “never will’s”. I’m sure you’ve been knocked down by the unfilled wishes, unachievable hopes and limitless regrets that came when you lost someone you loved. 

Nothing can change that list. Nothing can change the reality of the forever absence you’ve been left with. Nothing can change the moments you never got and the ones you wish you held more of. Nothing can change the outcome of loss. The only change that can occur is how your heart, mind, and soul handle that list. 

So, look at that list with authentic ache and longing but don’t let it harden your heart or the hopes you have for each day of the future. Look at that list with genuine heartbreak and sadness but don’t let it lead to the destruction of things and people that remain.

Don’t let your list of “I have never’s” turn into someone else’s “never had” and “never will’s”.

Take that list and use it to create meaningful traditions and priceless living. Some days you’ll look at that list and be overcome with sorrow and that’s ok, but on the other days look at that list as a challenge to live purposefully with bold love and shining hope. 

Life is fragile. Time is delicate. The power is in each tiny moment. Don’t allow the regrets and lost opportunity of grief to reduce the significance of what remains. 

Your pain can become the prevention of theirs. Your lost opportunities can become their treasured memories. For each of your “I have never’s” create an “I have” for someone still here. 

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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