I never knew the way death can multiply, the way it can take living souls that remain and turn them into hollow shells, still alive but not actually living. That all changed the day my mother passed away– because she was dead, I was pretty much dead too.
I paused life at first because it was too harsh to wake up each day knowing my mother could never return, that my future would be void of her.
I paused life later because the pain of grief made life feel empty and it seemed to drain the purpose and productivity from each and every day. Simple tasks became unbearable and ordinary routines became daunting.
I paused life because nothing made sense anymore. Because it hurt in ways I couldn’t overcome while the world kept spinning the same as it did before.
Until one day I decided that this life, my life, simply could not go on without my mother. She had to be included in my future, even if it looked and felt different. So I started fiercely looking for her, searching for her in things and people and places– everywhere and everything, nothing was off limits.
And I was surprised at what I found. Or maybe not surprised at all, but instead reminded of where she was and would always be, and also where she wasn’t.
I didn’t find her in the clothes draped in her closet or the pots and pans that filled her cabinet, though I kept them anyways.
I didn’t find her in the furniture that filled her house or the car she used to drive, though I was sure I should keep those too.
I didn’t find her in the comfy chair she always sat in or the house that no longer included her but still felt like it was hers.
I didn’t find her in any of the things that I thought I might, in fact I didn’t find her in things at all.
I found her in the way a warm breeze always seems to find me when I’m lonely or in need of her comfort.
I found her in the vibrant red cardinals that show up in the exact moments I’m asking her advice or searching for her influence.
I found her in the way my children say her name, tell her stories and ask about her, as if she never left at all.
I found her in prayer and in song.
I found her in her recipes and her traditions.
I found her in photos and in memories.
I found her in family and in friends.
I found her in beautiful new ways I never could have imagined or planned for.
I found her tucked right inside of me, where she has always been and where she’ll always be.
To honor her legacy and keep her memory alive, I have to live again. I have to keep her death, hers and hers alone. I have to stop searching for her, knowing that she is with me in invisible, yet powerful ways.
She would want me to.
She wants me to.
And yours does too.
Start living again, friends. Our mothers want us to.
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.