Empty Chairs

DSCN0749Sherod, Maria and I got to spend a couple of hours together yesterday afternoon–that’s all the time we’ll have with each other this holiday weekend. Maria’s behavior and choices come with consequences for us all.  On the way to drop her back off at BARC after our restaurant meal, we kicked off the Christmas music season listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Song.  When I was a new mom, driving around with my daughter in the Consumer Reports recommended car seat in my silver Volvo, she and I sang along to this song endlessly, giggling each time Alvin got scolded.  Hearing it again each year is a wonderful celebration of what Christmas came to mean when I became a parent.

Sometime during lunch which had nothing much to do with Thanksgiving (Sherod had a NY strip steak, I had lobster, Maria had filet mignon), Sherod and I told each other some ‘remember when’ stories and stopped at one point to acknowledge that the circle of our life has become awfully small, especially since Sherod’s hip and back pain became so acute.  Even one of our favorite things to do–to sit out on our dock–is not an option right now.  I’ve been up since a little after 4 this morning, so I went out a while ago and sat with my camera. It is chilly for Florida standards, and the light was still indirect and beautiful.  Sherod is still sleeping after a pretty long night of pain, from what I gather (I woke up several times and reached out to touch him only to find his side of the bed empty).  I was out there for both of us.

There is much about the way our life has closed in  that’s pretty awful and I don’t want to pretend otherwise.  On the other hand, it brings the unexpected into sharp focus. Getting to ride down a nearly empty interstate on Thanksgiving Day, my two favorite people with me, and Alvin and his buddies crooning Christmas into our life once again, was almost unbearably sweet and lovely.

A new friend, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, has a wonderful quote in her email template that reassures me that there is much grace to be found in small spaces:

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain
alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” -Edith Wharton

Today will be filled with sewing, knitting, a quick dash to put up a pair of new banners at church because our service schedule for Sundays is changing again, and time to enjoy the gift of sabbath with Sherod.  That’s the other thing–it’s sort of like the good vessel TARDIS– the circle is so much bigger on the inside than the outside suggests…

2 thoughts on “Empty Chairs

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