On the eleventh of November 2013 Horace, Rachel, Leah and I went to IKEA in Belfast to buy some bits and pieces for our new house. Leah wasn’t allowed in public places because of her immunity, but IKEA that Monday morning was almost deserted, so we felt that it was safe for her to come with us. Leah loved shopping.
It was a challenge to fit both the people and all the purchases into our car afterwards, but my husband is amazing when it comes to packing the car. It comes from years of practice being married to a woman who doesn’t ‘travel light’!
Amongst the items we bought were six folding kitchen chairs. Why did we need six? Because, in 2013, we were a family of six – two parents and four children.
Now, unless we have visitors, one of those kitchen chairs remains folded, unused, in our Utility Room. Now that it’s December, we are once again in the season when for many families there is a heightened awareness of the empty chair.
Along with our awareness of an empty chair, we will have Leah’s eighteenth birthday on New Year’s Eve and the second anniversary of her final hospitalisation and her death in December/January.
“The holidays are a time for recognizing our profound fullness, of purposefully dwelling on the abundant overflow we find ourselves in and being grateful.
Our houses and our bellies bulge to capacity and we gleefully overindulge in food and friends and laughter. We fill ourselves to bursting with all the things and the people that make life glorious and make the pain bearable.
This is a season where we inventory our lives and readily acknowledge all that is good and sweet and right.
It is about celebrating presence.
But not for you. Not right now.”
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