My Mom Died, But She Still Shows Up When I Need Her

by Chelsea Ohlemiller
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Chelsea Ohlemiller

They show up. They always do. You know, the people you’ve lost. The ones you so desperately ache for and miss. They show up, you just have to pay attention.

Since losing my mother, I’ve found that the hard times are made even more difficult by the fact that she isn’t here for them. She isn’t here to calm my nerves and ease my worries. That fact alone ends up making things more emotional and more trying. But then, it happens. If I’m paying attention, she shows up. It looks different each time, but she always shows up.

It could be the presence of a beautiful red cardinal, the song on the radio that feels like she’s sending a message directly to me, or the feeling and compassion of a stranger at the store. Eventually she shows up, and I feel her presence and love.

Courtesy of Chelsea Ohlemiller

Yesterday she showed up as a pair of lavender pants at the hospital. You see, lavender was my mother’s favorite color. In fact, she decorated an entire bathroom in the house with her love for this pale shade of purple.

As we headed to the hospital for our baby son’s surgery, I found myself needing my mother desperately. Since she now lives in heaven and is unable to be here for me in the traditional sense, I brought pieces of her with me. I threw on my lavender sweatshirt, the one I wear when I want to feel close to her, and her favorite ring and headed out the door.

Courtesy of Chelsea Ohlemiller

When the nurse showed us to our hospital room, it was filled with red and blue. From the soccer ball pillowcase to the colorful surgery shirt, it was a sea of red and blue and yellow, but sitting next to all of those colors sat a pair of lavender surgery pants.

Lavender. What are the odds? Not blue or red or yellow to match everything else, but a light shade of lavender, just like the color my mother once loved. I chuckled and made a joke to my husband about the pretty color of the pants chosen for our son. I couldn’t help but look up and smile, thinking, “Here you are, Mom! Just as I prayed. Thank you.”

It didn’t eliminate my fear or anxieties for the surgery, but it gave me hope. It was like a hug from heaven. It helped surround me with faith and love. It reminded me that just as a mother always does, she shows up, even from heaven.

Courtesy of Chelsea Ohlemiller

Those moments where we need them, they are there. Those moments we ache for them, they are there. They are there, and here, and exactly where we need them, always.

We just need to remember that. We need to pay attention.

In the difficult moments, I need to remember that she’s here, just in a different capacity. A different role. A different view. I need to trust that she’ll show up, just as I did when she was alive.

She’s a mother. Mothers keep their promises, even after they have left this world.

She never missed an important event or an opportunity to be there for her children. Why would death change that?

Those moments where we need them are the times to look around and pay attention, because they are with us, even if it’s in the form of itty bitty lavender pants.

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