The Empty Chair
The Empty Chair
There is a chair that exists for all families that have survived the loss of a loved one, and it sits empty at every holiday, birthday party, soccer game, and moment that they should have been there. I didn’t know that I would have to carry this empty chair for my lifetime on that first holiday without her. I guess I thought I would get used to it, that I would stop expecting her to burst through the door full of stories and laughter.
But it never goes away.
I remember when Molly’s classmates went back to school that September after she was abducted. The media was there, they wanted to see how these kids were coping, what the school would do, and tried to record surviving a catastrophic tragedy at 16 years old. I went to the school that day because I wanted to support Molly’s friends. I wanted to send them the message to “go on” to “move through” this as best they could.
But even then, I had a feeling that I would be captured in this room with the empty chair.
What a different place for them to be. No matter the outcome of this case, before long they will be able to shut the door. As they graduate, and move on to College or work or travel, they will build a new life. This will be a terrible memory, a trauma that peaks every so often, but this chapter will be over.
And, I will remain in the room with the empty chair. There will never be an end to this for me. She will always be gone. My daughter will never have an aunt, that is my sister. She will never be my Maid of Honor. I won’t be able to pick out Christmas gifts throughout the year for her anymore. My chapter doesn’t end, it moans for ever after.
The sun was crisp and bright that day, and I recall sending so much love and light to those kids. I wanted their lives to be better, to be normal.
We were crossing our bridges and following our paths, and although my arms are tired now from carrying the empty chair with me, I know that is the price of loving someone and being such a big part of their love too.
I wish I could piece this chair apart and use each strand of wood to encapsulate a part of her. Allowing me to sit to remember, and then dismember when needed.