The Empty Chair at the Table as the Constant Reminder of Death

An experience at Q39 in Kansas City, Missouri continues to remind me of Mom’s death and passing. Its the empty chair at the table during dinner that reminds me of the fact that my family is broken and in many ways lost.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

Tecumseh

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4  NIV

Where Mom would have sat at Q39 in Kansas City, Missouri

My Dad has been dealing with a brain tumor and he wanted to travel. So my sister and I took him to Columbia, Missouri to see the University of Missouri which is where  he worked at one point in his career. However since my Mom’s death on April 1, 2017 I am still in the process of dealing with that situation also. But there is one situation that reminds me of Mom’s death, and I felt it while traveling in Kansas City.

 

An Experience at Q39 in Kansas City

On October 9, 2018 my sister, Dad and myself were in Kansas City and we planned to have dinner that evening. Knowing the local culture and how barbecue is viewed in the area we decided to visit a local barbecue place. So we set out to visit Q39 in Kansas City. Q39 is a well known barbecue place that has won numerous awards. It is popular eatery and as well learned the crowds come in force to Q39. We took our seat at the table and as we were eating a thought came to my mind. There, before me at the table I sat at, was an open seat. It would be where Mom would sit if she was still with us today. When I was there I could close my eyes and imagine the following. Leaning upon the table on her elbows smiling, and her eyes full of life. I could imagine her voice, and see her move her head. When my Dad would say something that she looked at differently she would say, “Oh Jack.” I could just imagine Mom being there and the empty seat at the table was a constant reminder of her death, even while we all were having a good time and enjoying great food.

 

A Constant Reminder of Death

Since my Mom’s death in April 1, 2017 there has been one constant and steady reminder of the fact that she is no longer with us. It the fact that she doesn’t eat with us, and her physical presence isn’t there at the table. We have gone from saying, “Bonner party of 5” to “Bonner party of 4.” And as we visit restaurants and dine nothing has reminded us of Mom’s passing more than this one topic. It can be Fresno, California to Kansas City, Missouri to Butte, Montana, but there is always the constant reminder that Mom is gone. Its the empty chair at the table that reminds us of her passing. Its a small and quiet notice that is very loud for me. Discussions with my sister have also reminded us of her absence as she notices the empty chair at the table as well. Its one of the hardest and cruelest aspects of death, in that it shows us how our life is forever altered and how things will never be the same. A simple situation of eating becomes one of a reminder of the sting of death.

This situation reminded me of a song in one of my Mom’s favorite musicals – Les Miserables. My Mom adored that musical and saw it a couple of times. In the second act after the failed 1848 revolution in France a key character is Marius Pontmercy. He was rescued by Jean Valjean and as he recuperates from his wounds he also thinks about those that he knew who are no longer with him. Its the empty chairs at empty tables that he sings about. For me its probably the most haunting song that has come out of musical theatre. For my Mom this also holds true as its the empty chair at the dinner table that reminds me of her loss. So with that I will leave you with Michael Ball singing the classic song. Please take care!

One thought on “The Empty Chair at the Table as the Constant Reminder of Death

  1. However since my Mom’s death on April 1, 2017 I am still in the process of dealing with that situation also.

    And it looks like she may have been the first of a one-two punch.

    We have gone from saying, “Bonner party of 5” to “Bonner party of 4.”

    On a lighter note, I first read that as “DONNER Party” instead of “Bonner party”.

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