Empty Space

December 13th, 2010 § 4 comments

Clarke and I attended a family wedding this weekend. One of his first cousins got married and my parents stayed with the kids while we drove to the event. Four of Clarke’s brothers and sisters attended and we were able to see many family members we hadn’t seen since the memorial service for Barbara a little over a year ago.

Barbara’s three sisters were there, of course, and one of her brothers. It’s a large family and we all have a great time visiting when we have occasions to see each other. It was fantastic to have a happy reason to gather; so often as we age it seems we only see each other to mourn.

And while we were happy, while we loved seeing a young bride and groom start their lives together, we couldn’t help but ache every moment for the special one who was not there. Barbara’s absence hung over the weekend. For the first time since she died I didn’t have to distinguish one “Mrs. Clarke Adams” from the other. We’d had the same name for the last 13 years and over the weekend I missed the confusion it often gave us at check-in time or seating assignments for dinner.

It wasn’t until the groom danced with his mother (Barbara’s sister) that the emptiness became overwhelming. This particular sister resembles Barbara the most: her eyes, her expressions, her hair. And as she danced with her son we all could not help but cry: my youngest brother-in-law, still in his 20s, would not have that dance with his mother when he gets married.

I talked about Barbara a lot this weekend; I couldn’t help it.

My anger is still here: she should be here enjoying these things. It is someone else’s fault she isn’t (see here for original newspaper piece and here for my piece about the court hearing). Somehow, to me, that makes it worse. Her body didn’t fail, she didn’t get a disease. Someone made an egregious decision and she paid the price with her life.

I’m not over that anger and I don’t think I ever will be. Every happy event is one we are not sharing with her. And while no one’s life can go on forever, when it’s taken without warning and too soon it takes time to adjust to. It’s too much to swallow in one gulp, and this bitter taste is dissolving very slowly. This weekend was hard. Christmas, which has always been synonymous with Barbara, is going to be even harder. I know there are many people reading this who are grieving losses this year, and the holidays are always difficult. My heart goes out to you all.


§ 4 Responses to Empty Space"

  • Erika Robuck says:

    I read the newspaper link. How heartbreaking. My uncle died days before Christmas in a car accident a decade ago, and we still talk about him and think about him during this time of year.

    My mother has lived with severe scholiosis and, as a result of that, restrictive lung disease her entire life. She’s always operated at about 50% lung capacity. Seven years ago, she was down to 46%. Now, she’s at 28%. This will likely be her last Christmas, so we are taking as much time with her as we can, filling our weeks with good experiences and meaningful words so that hopefully, when she isn’t with us, we’ll have these memories to hold on to.

    I send out a wishes for a happy and peaceful holiday season to all.

  • auntie_jenn says:

    hugs to you….know that as you grieve, we are here to listen, be supportive, and give you strength. keep writing these beautiful memories. xoxo

  • Laura Lump says:

    I’ve thought about you a lot, recently…not directly, but emotionally…in connection with appreciating my mother while she’s here and making a conscious effort to “absorb” her presence as long as I’m lucky enough to do so. As you know, my parents were visiting with me for two weeks over Thanksgiving. Two weeks is a long time to have guests in your home, and I was conflicted over feeling happy and feeling burdened at their being here. I remembered, though, your post about greeting your mother at the train station. How seeing her was like looking into the sun. (God, I love that!) I’ll admit, there was no blinding emotion when I picked up my parents at Heathrow; but I did have a glorious time with her. The two weeks were — for perhaps the first time ever — decidedly NOT a burden. And I missed her with a palatable ache almost as soon as I pulled away from the curb at the airport, two weeks later. Thank you, Lisa, for providing that voice that tells us what we already know but aren’t wise enough to recognize at the moment. xoxo.

  • Shari says:

    Thank you, again, for sharing. I didn’t realize the wedding was a relative and so much family would be in attendance. With this being the first gathering with extended family, it is my hope that the ‘dissolving’ will continue. Your pain will never go away, but hopefully each gathering will get a bit easier so that instead of tears, you will be able to reflect and remember and smile.

    My grandfather died the year we graduated high school. He was my role model. I remember on graduation night, while my friends all attended parties, I took my diploma to visit him at home in bed, with his bald head (cancer). I never regret that I did that. The parties waited. That was June, he died in August. I think I cried at special events where that empty space was so obvious and gaping for over a decade. Now, 23 years later, I can finally think of him and his absense and spend more time remembering, smiling, and laughing. I still get a good cry about once a year.

    The pain will subside in time. Until then, think of her and smile as you remember as often as you can. And cry and be angry when you feel like it!

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