She didn’t look sick. She didn’t look like she was dying. She didn’t look like she was slipping to eternity and far away from us. She didn’t look like anything but my mother.  

She didn’t look like those things because she couldn’t. My mind wouldn’t accept it and my heart couldn’t fathom it. Denial is the first sign of grief’s ugly entrance. 

Sadly, the glasses of hope that had been filtering my visions, thoughts, and wishes suddenly slipped off and out of reach. Hope no longer existed, because there was no room for it. I saw things as they were, realistically and harsh.

She was taking her final breaths and my heart was slowly disintegrating.  

She hadn’t looked sick or dying or fading, until the very moment she did. The very moment she let her last breath slip out, stealing pieces of my being and fragments of my soul. Hope can no longer carry you when the opportunity has diminished and when the chance of a miracle has been stolen from you. When hope leaves, reality finds you, and consequently, grief attaches its ache to every aspect of your life. From the change of your heart’s composition to the hole it carves in your soul—it is noticeable and mighty. 

RELATED: The Day She Dies

As I reflect on the destruction of losing someone I love, I’m reminded of the denial and the glasses of hope that shaded my view of disease and death. I’m reminded of the light-filled glasses that altered the horror in front of me, clouding my view of pain and the realities of a forever absence. I’m reminded of those glasses, the ones that helped ease the ache by consistently providing hope and grace. 

Maybe those glasses of hope, the ones with lenses created with love and light and faith, maybe they are a gift.

Our loved one’s last gift, a treasure of love’s perspective. A gift that comes to shelter our minds from all that is to come. Maybe those light-filled glasses are purchased by the hearts of those leaving us. Maybe it’s their last act of love and comfort, to give us a view that mirrors theirs. One with concrete and determined faith and acceptance.  

Before slipping further, and look sicker, and finding finality, they silently slip invisible glasses with lenses of all they want for us:

Unending love.

Lasting comfort.

Passionate faith.

Consistent hope.

Light-filled guidance.

Protected paths of grief, paved with joy-filled remembrance.

RELATED: To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent

They don’t want us to be destroyed by the devastating visions of death, so they cloud them with the special comfort only they could provide. The one they’ve given us our entire lives.

Their last gift—hope and love-filled lenses to assist in our journey.  

Once they’re gone, the glasses go with them. They don’t know that fact when they gift them, but they don’t need to. The key is in understanding their vision for our path, the one we must take without them. Understanding the lens they want us to view the future.  

They chose visions of love.

They chose visions of hope.

They chose visions of faith.

They chose visions of comfort and peace and light. 

RELATED: For As Long As We Love, We Grieve

If you look carefully, you’ll see them, even without the light-filled glasses. If you pay attention you’ll feel them, and if you’re willing and brave enough, you’ll start living with them, embedded deep within your soul. 

Who knew, it wasn’t denial after all, friends. It was the priceless gift of light-filled glasses with lenses of hope and peace and comfort. Oh, and love. Endless love. 

Originally published 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 and is the mother to three beautiful and spunky children. Chelsea’s mother always encouraged her to write. In 2017 when she tragically lost her mother to cancer she decided to honor her mother's wishes and write. It was one of the best decisions she's ever made. She know owns the website Happiness, Hope & Harsh Realities, a space dedicated to encouraging others experiencing grief and loss. Website: www.hopeandharshrealities.com Instagram Handle: hopeandharshrealities Facebook: @hopeandharshrealities 

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