This year has been one of extreme loss for my family. Miss Gwen, one of the most lovely women that I’ve ever met, who taught me southern hospitality (the best and worst of it) passed away in May. My Dad left us in August. My tormented, creative cousin Justin moved on in October. These losses don’t include the natural upheaval that comes from loss, and the inconsiderate actions of others that have desecrated our family as a whole.
The Holidays are here and I can’t seem to muster enough joy to find reason in the season. I want to pretend that it’s just another day because those are hard enough to get through without adding the flood of memories from yesteryear. My Grandfather and later, Dad playing Santa to all of us. The smells of the kitchen from my Grandmother’s kitchen who would never let us cook, yet all of us seemed to have picked up a few tips from her along the way. (Even if it means our children can’t cook with us.) Calls from all branches of the family, sometimes even visits from those that were close enough, well wishes for the coming year and reminiscing of those lost in a figurative or literal manner. It never seemed to matter because in one way or another, those that were lost were always present; the empty chairs always filled.
This year, I feel lost. I feel like I can’t bring those to life, and honor all those that aren’t here appropriately. Not the way it’s been done in the past. Mentally, I know this calls for new traditions, to show my daughter the reason why I fell in love with the Christmas season. Emotionally, it breaks me in a way that I’ve never felt before. The tightness in my chest, the sharp physical pain in my heart and hot tears that slide down my face. There is no reconciling the past with the present right now. No filling the empty chairs in the physical manner that I crave.
If this were any other piece, I’d end it with hope. A message of peaceful conclusion that I’ve arrived at that I wanted to share with you. Not this time. This time, I’m just trying to fill a couple of empty chairs that will never be full again.