The Empty Place at the Table
So now my boys are all home at the same time…for a little while at least. Jordan and Dylan are home from college for the summer, and Logan of course, is always here (being still a freshman in high school). Dylan however will be leaving in about a week as he heads out on a six-week summer project to Lebanon with Campus Crusade for Christ. ‘Very proud of him but will miss him (again).
All that to say that tonight was our first dinner together this new summer season, almost one year after Roger’s death. Just me, Jordan, Dylan and Logan. At the table for dinner…without Roger. And it hurts, this dinner time hour without him. And it’s awkward. And I think honestly, none of us really want to be here doing trying to do this normal family thing because it just seems to magnify our loss. It hurts. And it’s hard.
And yet, I know we must. The avoidance of all the memories and the things that cause us pain will help no one in the end. So we must find the courage to walk through them. It’s like the chant in that children’s story about a bear hunt whenever the hunters come up against an obstacle in their path: “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it. ‘Have to go through it.”
Have to go through it.
And I know we must learn how to live without Roger, as hard and impossible as that seems to us. And we must be intentional about staying close and united as a family. We must stay connected by sharing about our day and our plans for the weekend and what happened at work or school today and whose turn it is to mow the grass and who needs to clean the kitchen after dinner and a hundred other mundane but necessary dinnertime conversations because they help keep us connected as a family. And they remind us that life must go on. That we must go on. That we will go on.
And as I say the blessing before dinner, I ask God aloud to help bring healing to this family this summer. Help us find our way. Help us know and remember that You (God) designed us to be interdependent, and that when times are toughest, that’s when we need each other the most, even when everything inside just wants to run away and hide. From the pain. From the reminders. From anything that lays open the wound. Again.
So dear God, please help us remember it’s ok to be sad and to cry and to grieve, both in moments of solitude and times of togetherness. Help us also know that it’s ok to laugh and be happy and find a way to move on. Whatever that looks like. No matter how hard that may be. Please God, just bring healing and peace to our hearts and minds.
And thank you in advance for your healing presence in this family’s life on any given day this new summer.