Something Worse Than the Empty Chair

My heart broke again today. For the hundredth time in the hundredth way, it broke. On a typical morning of a typical family vacation, I fixed my daughter breakfast in the kitchen while my cousin’s husband sat at the table in front of his laptop across from my dad, who also sat in front of his laptop. The two men sitting normally at the breakfast table getting in a little work before relaxing for the day. What a normal sight. Two wonderful people whom I love dearly. And as I looked at them my heart cried. I kept a smile on my face but inside I was screaming. Because that should be my husband sitting in that chair across from my dad. Silently doing the little bit of work that he has to do in order to feel justified to be away from his laptop. That should be my husband in the kitchen on this family vacation. But my husband died. He will never again sit at that table.

I didn’t know this a year ago, but there is something worse than the empty chair at the table. What’s worse is having that chair removed. What’s worse is being the only one in the room who knows how empty that chair is. I have spent a lot of time now learning to be a widow. It’s not easy. I’ve learned to put a smile on my face when my heart is screaming. I wish I could say that I don’t need to do that. I wish I could say that when it hurts I could just say it. But lives have gone on, even mine. But mine is not the same. My life will never be the same, nor would I want it to be.

I cry and it hurts. But I don’t want to stop crying, I don’t want it to stop hurting. Because if that stopped then I would stop feeling. The one thing I never want to do is stop feeling, because his love is always there with me. That’s why this hurts so bad. So I guess what I have to do now is keep doing this. Keep smiling, keep living, keep loving… And sometimes smile when my heart is screaming. Because life did not go on for him, but it goes on for them. And as broken as I am that he does not sit at the table with them, they are at the table. And it is ok that I have to remind myself to be grateful for that, as long as I remain grateful. As long as I remember to be grateful.

Life is short. Life is hard. Life is beautiful. Keep going even when it barely seems worth it. It won’t get easier, it won’t get longer, but it will get more beautiful if you insist on making it beautiful.


Published by

Becky Nolan

I a widowed mom to my young daughter. I lost my husband suddenly at the age of 29, leaving me with a one year old child to raise on my own. I live in Connecticut, where I met, married, and lost the man that I am still proud to call my husband. Every day I struggle. Every day I learn. Every day I am grateful for the time I had with him, and for the little girl he gave me before he left. I have found comfort and healing in writing. I have found purpose in sharing my story, knowing that so many others have been through it, too. Knowing that everyone has experienced loss and struggle. Words can be healing when they come from that deeply honest place within the soul. Grief is too lonely a road to walk alone, so I aim to give comfort and company on that lonely road.

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