After a summer of fun I started going through photos I had taken. As always, there are the photos that didn't turn out that you wish would have, great photos you just can't wait to print or share on social media, and then there's the unexpected photo, the one you didn't know you took. The photo isn't focused on anything. You pressed the capture button without realizing and wham, you have the random unexpected photo you didn't know you took. These photos always seem so errie, sort of out of body, out of context to all other photos so planned so framed so happy. But this one, this empty chair was so much more than that.
Since the moment I lost my brother 15 years ago, I immediately noticed all the empty chairs he no longer occupied. We ate dinner every night as a family, we went to church every Sunday, we had our seats in the car, and spots in front of the tv. As we grew up we still came home for family events and holidays, we still met up at church on Sundays, went to movies, out for lunch, coffee, and found ourselves in each others homes for games and pizza.
All those occupied chairs, all those years.
2 months before my 27th birthday and 2 months after my brothers 30th birthday, he died.
And all of a sudden all I could see was the empty chairs he should be sitting at.
The empty chair on the patio for a heartfelt talk, the vacant spot in the pew at church, the movie seat for all the movies we had planned to watch together, the chairs around the holiday tables, and empty stools in coffee houses. So many empty chairs, it made my heart ache every time I sat down to be faced with a spot my brother once occupied. I talked myself into thinking that he was still with us in all those empty chairs. Like a friendly spirit filling a void to cheer me up.
As years pass and time helps us move forward the empty chairs started filling with new friends and old, new loved ones like my two beautiful children. New traditions start and old ones seems to go on despite the loss of someone so specail.
This summer I spent a week at my parents house in Colorado with my husband and kids. We got to spend time with my sisters and their families. In honor of us visiting, my dad had one of his famous Shrimp Boils. We all sat around and ate Cajun shrimp until we thought we would explode. I took lots of happy family photos that afternoon. But this, the empty chair was in the middle of my photos. So lonely, so vacant, sad. My brother should have been there that day. All those feelings from 15 years ago welled up inside me when I saw the photo. Sometimes those random, out of context photos are what our heart needs most.