Empty Chairs

There were empty chairs at the Christmas table. Some temporary, some permanent. Some have been empty a long time. Some we are still getting used to.

Others might think thirteen around the table to be a grand-sized party. The table was full and crowded. But the empty chairs were obvious to me.

I sat in my father’s chair. It made sense, as the only one of his children present. But the burden of taking that place felt heavy.

The party was congenial but I missed my natural allies.

Little things were difficult. A discussion of family likenesses to those not there. The bottle of wine my father always bought for Christmas. Traditions replaced by new alternatives.

The grief has been hard this year.

Things were wrong and there was no way to make them right.

I went to the ocean. I felt the cold water on my body, the sting of salt in my eyes and I let the ebb and flow of the pounding waves carry away some of the pain.

But still next year there will be empty chairs at the Christmas table.

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44 thoughts on “Empty Chairs

  1. If there was a “love and hug” button, I would have clicked on that. My dad has been gone over four years, but I truly miss him on holidays. And it was weird this year not taking mom out for Christmas dinner due to her deteriorating dementia. I’m sorry the grief has been so hard on you, Heather. Time may soften it, and I pray it does with fond and joyous memories that make you smile rather than feel sad.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m becoming convinced that grief does not follow a linear path. I have struggled more with my sister’s death this year than I have since the early days. Often we do share happy memories but I think this Christmas was difficult because so many who know those memories and would share in the stories were absent this year.

      Sounds like your Christmas was also extra challenging this year. Sending much love to you, M-J.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Heather, like so many others have expressed here, know that we are wrapping you in virtual hugs. Christmas is a time when we seem to be particularly in tune with our emotions, especially when it comes to family & our loved ones. I hope that in some small way, writing helps my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to have stumbled upon this post!

    I am a part of that club of a billion souls. Fighting a battle after the loss of a loved one.

    It goes beyond the borders of Christmas. It can be someone who is alone or as in our situation; dealing with an empty chair or trying to recreate a holiday dish that the person always made. It is never easy but we can always treasure the good times.

    And I will dig around through your site…I enjoy reading good stories about the battles of parenting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, Heather, it is indeed the time of year when these things hit us the most. My dad died on 21st December some 15 years ago and every year since I remember with clarity that awful Christmas which has since been skewed forever. But empty chairs get filled and new traditions and new memories are made. There is nothing wrong in grieving and there are no limitations on time. These things come and go much like the ebb and flow of the sea. All we can do is tell the people we love that we do whilst they are around us. And not let them be forgotten when they’re not.
    Sending more hugs your way ((( )))

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m less convinced about the time thing after this year, Barbara. I’ve really struggled with the loss of my sister in recent months and it’s been 23 years since she died. I think, with time, you learn to live with it but some life changes along the way can mean having to adjust all over again.

      Thank you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Writing is definitely an outlet for the grieving process. There is a poet in you!
    I started my blogging experience years ago in response to grief. I have found in beneficial in more ways I can enunciate!
    Christmas and Easter festivities are always difficult. But noone can take away your wonderful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I find it’s the strongest emotions that tend to get me writing. And I think a number of people come to it through grief. They are the words you need to get out but which people find uncomfortable to hear in person so writing is a way to release.
      A dear friend has just lost her father to cancer. It’s hard for the memories not to resurface at such times.

      Liked by 1 person

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