The second day of summer break started out as a typical day. Sunny skies, which meant a walk around the neighborhood.

Usually, these walks involve endless laughs and silliness. I push the stroller and the kids race past me on their scooters.

But this day was different. This day’s walk started with, “Mom, can I ask you a question?!”

Usually, the questions involve inquiries about ice cream, trips to the park, or play dates with friends.

Not today.

This day I was met with, “Mom, why do we have to die and go to Heaven? Why can’t we just all live down here together forever?”

I wasn’t prepared for the question and my answer was simple and unplanned. “It’s part of life, buddy. It’s the way God made things.”

My son asks a lot of questions now that my mother is gone. They always come when I least expect them and they usually knock the wind right out of me.

They are small glimmers into his grief. They are reminders that no matter how much fun I think he is having, he misses her. Always. They are reminders that although nearly two years have passed, he is just as confused and heartbroken as the day she left us.

We share that confusion and heartbreak.

I will always welcome their questions. Even when I am unprepared. Even when they hurt. Even when they knock the wind out of me.

Kids are resilient, but they also know pain. They grieve differently than adults do, but they grieve. They hurt. They miss. They wonder.

I hope I always welcome their questions and their grief journey. I hope I always take the time to acknowledge their place in this loss and the ones to come.

I’m not sure my answer was the correct one, but I’m sure that I met his question with love and listening ears. I’ll probably mess up the answers to a million more questions, but I’ll always acknowledge that the absence of someone he loves has changed him. Just as it’s changed me.

We are different now. A piece of our heart is missing.

We won’t conquer grief, but we will learn to live with it.

We will exchange the hurt for healing.

We will remember that the reason we ache is because we loved so beautifully.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Wife, mother, and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is married to the love of her life, Justin. She’s the mother to three beautiful and spunky children. She has a deep love of teaching and has always enjoyed helping inspire students. She is a Ball State graduate but an Indiana University Hoosier at heart. Chelsea’s mother always encouraged her to write. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. She decided to honor her mother's wishes and write. It was one of the best decisions she's ever made. Website: Instagram Handle: hopeandharshrealities Facebook: @hopeandharshrealities