“This year I fly alone. Pray for me.”– those were the words that came from her mouth. She wasn’t talking about a plane ride or a solo retreat. She was talking about life after a significant loss. She was talking about venturing into the holidays with a broken heart, while trying to continue the joy and traditions for others. She was talking about trying to recreate moments from the past while staring at a vacant spot– one others don’t notice with the intensity that she does.
I recognized her wounded heart and her anguished soul. I recognized her purposeful pursuit for normalcy while trying to mimic the pricelessness of the past, even when weighed down by grief and a forever absence. Those things are easy to identify in others when you were once in similar shoes, ‘flying solo’ per say.
I stare at her, replaying her words in my head, and it’s like I’m looking in a mirror from years past. From a time when I felt alone and empty entering a holiday season that no longer included my mother and all of her magic.
While she stands in front of me and asks for my prayers, which she’ll undoubtedly get, I feel compelled to give her something else too. Something I needed all those years ago, during the first special days, moments, and circled occasions on the calendar.
Hope, faith and perspective– the things I needed most back then.
I look at her and whisper, “You have my prayers, always. But you should know that while it might feel like it, and while it certainly may look like it, you aren’t flying alone. I promise. You were loved with too much power and too much purpose to ever be flying solo.”
And with my whole heart I know it’s true.
When we’re recreating recipes, they’re there.
When we’re decorating the halls, they’re there.
When we fill their favorite pew in the chapel, they’re there.
Always with us so we never have to fly solo.
And even when it’s hard to grasp and even harder to accept, I know it’s true.
They’re always with us.
When we’re gathered around a table, both grateful and grieving, they’re there.
When we’re singing their favorite carols or shopping at their favorite stores, they’re there.
When we’re decorating cookies, a tree, or even the headstone that says their name, they’re there.
When we’re cuddled up with hot cocoa watching holiday shows, they’re there.
Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, they’re there.
Always with us, though it will never look the same as it once did.
Always with us, though different than we’d like, and certainly different than we planned.
Always with us so we’re never flying solo, even when it feels like it.
And the brutal truth is that you’ll never be doing this life alone after losing someone you love, but it won’t always feel like that. So eventually you learn to live with both of those truths, that you’re never truly alone and yet somehow always a little less whole, forever missing something. Forever missing someone, but never actually flying alone.
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.