Empty Spaces

I walked through the darkened living room just now and gave a little gasp as I looked toward your spot. 

Your chair is so empty. 

Gone is your big personality and sheer joy at being alive. Gone is the glass of water, the box of tissues, the tank of oxygen. Gone is your Swiss Army knife, as faithful a friend as an inanimate object can be. Gone is your wallet, your tums, all those things that helped ease some of your struggles in those last days. 

Gone. Empty. 

What once was full is now empty space. 

Mom just brought out a laundry basket of your clothes. I see your shirts and pants, empty of the body and spirit that once filled them. 

Those LL Bean sweaters I loved buying you at Christmas, complete with a coupon for more? They are empty, the arms that once filled them are gone. 

In truth, no human word or comfort will ever fill these empty spaces. People made in the image of God cannot be replaced. 

There are so many that live with these empty spaces. I think of the more recent ones – Brit, Jayna, Bruce, Chris – now, Mom and our family. But there are so many more. 

There are empty wombs and empty hearts; empty cribs and empty beds; so many empty spaces. Some spaces are visibly empty, others are invisible – hidden wounds of the heart. 

My cousin sent me these words the other day – and how I cling to them. 

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

I cry out to God, the God you reflected so well. 

And in the darkness the space is still empty, but his love is present. 

5 thoughts on “Empty Spaces

  1. This rings true. I’ve lost all of my family members, and there remains an empty space that I’ve learned to honor for each of them. Not immediately; not on my time; but on some other plane of universal readiness.


  2. Yes, all is empty except our hearts and memories. There, dear Ralph lives on. And he awaits us in Heaven! How wonderful for him!


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