There they were, the words that slip out of my mouth every time someone mentions or asks about my mother. 

“My mother passed away unexpectedly a few years ago.” 

Unexpectedly. I say it every time.

Truth is, to a medical professional, it probably wasn’t unexpected. She had cancer. The cancer spread. Treatments were no longer helping and eventually, they were stopped altogether. Those things combined surely acknowledge an impending death. But I never saw it that way. Not even in the moments before she passed. 

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I say unexpectedly because it was unexpected, to me. 

I never expected my mother to die even as I watched her take her last breaths. 

She was my mother. The strongest person I know. Surely things would change and we’d get more time with her. Surely this scene wouldn’t lead to a reality where she no longer lived, breathed, and walked among us. 

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“Unexpectedly.” It’s not a lie. It tells the truth that no matter her diagnosis, or the harsh reality that laid in front of us, it was still a total shock when she slipped into death. 

Her death was unexpected because up until that point, she always survived.

She always made it through. She always beat the odds.

Until the moment she didn’t. 

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And because of that, I will find myself forever saying, “My mother passed away unexpectedly.”

Previously published on the author’s blog

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.

Instagram Handle: chelsohlemiller