Chicken Soup for the Soul Round-Up

Over the last decade I have been privileged to contribute to a lot of wonderful publications, but very few are as respected and world-renown as Chicken Soup for the Soul. My five feel-good stories have appeared in seven different anthologies. And since it seems an appropriate time to share some virtual chicken soup with my followers, I thought I’d offer my first round-up post of ‘Soul Stories,’ as I’ll call them now.

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Bus 152: No Longer in Service

as seen as “Prenatal Nocturne” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven


“The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated.”
~Washington Irving


After my mother’s death in 2007, I dreamt of her quite frequently. Some evenings I spent hours telling her how life had been treating me, and other nights consisted of dreams in which her death had never taken place. No matter the content, each dream gave me solace. Sadly though, as time went on the dreams were fewer and farther between. Several years after her passing, her visits only came every few months.
Then, in late 2012, my husband and I found out that we were going to be parents the following June. Although I was thrilled, the idea of going through a pregnancy without my mother’s support made me anxious; I began to imagine all the milestones Mom would miss. My husband was supportive and as understanding as he could be, but my anxiety slowly turned back into grief. Still, I took the necessary actions to confirm our pregnancy test results.


The following week, the evening of our first doctor’s appointment, I fell into a deep sleep, filled with the warmth of seeing my baby for the first time. As my dream began to unfold, I found myself waking up in a hospital bed. I was alone in a sterile, dark room. A feeling of panic washed over me. Suddenly, the door opened and my mother entered. Her smile illuminated the tiny space. I couldn’t help but smile back at her. I tried to get up and give her a hug, but realized I was restricted by the IV attached to my arm. Mom motioned to me to stay on the bed, and she came to my side.


“Oh, I am so excited!” she began. She was glowing, but not because of some ethereal warmth. Happiness was simply oozing from her every pore. Mom pulled out a compact mirror, powdered her nose, and adjusted her hair.


“Where am I? What are we doing here?” I inquired.


“Silly, you just gave birth! The nurses have your beautiful baby in the other room, and I just can’t wait to meet my granddaughter,” she cooed.


“D-daughter?” I said, a tear coming to my eye. “But I don’t understand. I was just four weeks this morning.”


“Well, I can’t explain that, but it’s June 15th and you’ve just done a beautiful job delivering my grandchild. Oh honey, I’m so proud of you. Well, I’m off to meet my granddaughter!” With that she kissed my forehead and left the room as quickly and smoothly as she had entered, as if she was floating on a cloud.


My tears continued to flow, and as I woke up, my mother’s warmth seemed to fill every fiber in my body. I felt closer to her that night than I had felt for so long. Still, my sleep was fitful for the remainder of evening as I wondered whether I had been granted a true visit with Mom or not.


The next morning, I pried myself out of bed and got ready for work. My mind replayed the dream over and over again as I began my commute. I was jarred from my thoughts a little over a mile from my house when, a few feet from the freeway entrance, a bus cut in front of me. I slammed on my brakes. At first I cursed the driver, but then I noticed the number and destination on the digital screen above my head. “152,” it read, “No Longer in Service.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Mom was born in January of 1952, I knew in an instant this was yet another message from her. It was also confirmation that her visit the night before had been very real. “No Longer in Service.” I chuckled lightly at the euphemism and felt empowered once more. I knew in my heart my mother was there with me, with my baby, and she was most definitely part of the incredible biological process I was embarking upon.
It wasn’t until my twentieth week of pregnancy that my mother’s visit was validated once more; my husband and I found out that we were having a baby girl, just as my mother had shared with me four months earlier.


~A.B. Chesler

When Divorce Means Something Different

Not long ago I shared a post entitled When Death Means Something Different, and in it I explain how the loss of my father was vastly different than my mother’s death. He had been a tortured addict for decades, and this was his chance at finding a peace he couldn’t experience in life. But my grander point in that post was that with each situation in life, the greatest factor in our ability to cope becomes perspective.

It is with this perspective that I approach this newest piece. Societally, divorce has been said to induce the same sort of grief as death. It surely did that for my mom, who had been left by my father just as I was born. Dad abandoned us for a new life that was seemingly less complicated. Meanwhile, Mom’s new path was tainted by divorce from the get-go because for her it symbolized failure, heartbreak, and a loss of control.

My divorce has meant something much different though. I never intended to be divorced, but I also never intended to be unhappily married. In our marriage we had created habits that were detrimental to each other and to our children’s development, that much I could see as they got older. It seemed to only promote pieces of the cycle that I had escaped from before. Thus, with divorce we have found the space to curate balance and peace for our children, a calmer home life overall. With our separation and consequent divorce, our children have flourished in many ways. And through divorce I have found self-respect and an increased happiness that became impossible within the confines of our relationship habits.

Of course, it has not been without complication, but nothing largely transformative is ever terribly easy. So, to me, divorce does not have to equate to grief. Nothing automatically does. If we choose to allow it, divorce can equate to advocacy and hope. Almost anything can. It’s simply all about perspective.