Thinking of those who have an empty seat at the table…

We’ve had a busy day today getting prepared to travel for Thanksgiving. Amid the laundry, cleaning, food prep, and other errands of the day, it seemed for a while that I forgot why we were going through all the effort: so we can be with family. It’s never easy to travel with a young family, but somehow it always gets done. And even if we get to our destination and realize we forgot something important (one year, we arrived in Michigan and as I was unpacking I discovered that I hadn’t packed socks for any of the kids. We lived to tell about it!), we’ll still make it through the visit.

But then, as I was driving home from a late-night errand, I passed the house of our neighbors, who just lost their husband and father to a sudden heart attack less than three weeks ago, and a heaviness came over me. We aren’t close to the neighbors and barely even wave to each other if we pass on the street or happen to be retrieving our mail at the same time. That Friday three weeks ago, however, we were all home and in the schoolroom when the ambulance pulled up to their house. The kids have a habit of praying for whoever is in an ambulance when one screams by us on the road, so we stopped our afternoon schooling and did the same. It wasn’t until the next week that we learned he had passed away.

I don’t know what their Thanksgiving will be like, and it seems that they have been surrounded by family and friends since it happened (judging by the cars in their driveway), but I know that there will be an empty place at their Thanksgiving dinner this year. It got me to thinking about all the people who may be facing the same reality this Thursday: an empty place at the table. My heart goes out to anyone who has recently lost a loved one and will have to celebrate the holiday without the person they loved so much. Or maybe the lost person has been gone for many years, but the seat at the table remains open. There’s something about holidays that makes the loss more painful, and the hole remaining more wide. It certainly has to be a harsh reality to face.

For everyone who misses someone or is hurting this season, my heart goes out to you. I pray there will be a feeling of comfort and peace that surrounds you as you walk through the grief. For myself, I’m praying for real and meaningful ways that we can reach out to and help our neighbors who are surely grieving this week.

And as we prepare to travel, I’m even more thankful to be able to see my family and share time and a Thanksgiving meal with them. Even if we arrive without socks, it will be just fine, and we’ll have a wonderful time nevertheless.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tina Hagan
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 23:23:07

    Amen, sister.


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