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The Empty seat

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I went to a family wedding. Since we were all dressed up, it was a great opportunity to get a family picture. As any proud mother would, I posted the picture on my Facebook page. The likes and comments came pouring in...."beautiful family"...."great family picture." To anyone looking in, we seemed like a big, happy family. What they didn't see is that a short time after that picture was taken, I was wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to the groom talk about how his brother, who passed away from cancer in 2013, should be sitting next to him. My heart broke for his family knowing that they would m is out on so many more memories.

That;s when it hit me...we never had a chance to make memories with Holden and would live with a continuous void as we walked our Earthly path. I thought about our yearly Christmas Day photo, first day of school, graduations, weddings, birth of my grandchildren...and yet these thoughts felt so incomplete. I thought of my children and how they would never know what it is like to have all their siblings together. The thought of their pain and sadness surpasses my own struggles. I've been able to navigate my grief but helping my children through their own has been one of the greatest challenges I have faced. I have heard my oldest tell me she wanted to die to be with Holden. I have had to explain to my boys that they have a brother in Heaven who was born between them. No mother should have to explain this to their child. I've seen the struggle my kids have when drawing our family or explaining to their friends about their Heavenly sibling. I have seen the tears well up in their eyes when there is a pause in life that allows us to feel the gravity of our loss. My heart breaks a little more every time I see their pain.

Living with a broken heart is an ongoing battle that requires daily strength and resilience. Sometimes, our human limits take hold and it becomes too much. This is when my thoughts run rampant about what should have been, what we lost, what we continue to lost as we continue our path. Some days are easier than others. Some days, I awaken feeling the weight of our grief and it takes a moment for me to gain my footing. Some days, I smile knowing that he is watching over us, guiding us until we meet again. No two days are the same and they never will be as this is the journey of loss. I often find myself envious of those who have not faced loss...their innocent comments and thoughts...their daily struggles their living children...their completely family takes a lot of strength for me to subdue the bitterness I feel surging in my veins. Loss can bring out a whole new level you never knew could exist within you. I know this part of my grief and I am aware of it. I know it's not who I am and it is only one part of the ugly beast that tries to take over my heart. I know that Holden would not want me to succumb to my grief and this thought carries me through the hard moments.

With the holiday's approaching, I know I will lean on his guidance more than ever. I am also thankful for my sisters-in-loss whose love lifts me when the pain becomes too much and carry me until I can walk again. They understand my struggles and let me know I am not alone. I know that the empty seat at the table will bring a whole new wave of pain and sadness but also a reminder of how precious life truly is and how blessed we are. I know Holden will be with us just as Jonathan was with Neck and Marissa on their wedding day. Although our pictures will never be complete, there will always be a little part of him in everything we do. This is what gives me peace to carry on.

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