The Empty Chair

Losing a loved one to cancer is never easy. You try to move on, but there are always reminders.

Little things. Sometimes big things. At the dinner table, there’s always an empty chair. Just a few days ago, we broke out an old Scrabble game, and there were still some score cards revealing just how the game had gone between me and “Bug,” the name I used to call me wife. chair

And then there are the holidays. As you would expect, Christmas can always be hard. But so can Mother’s Day.

My son will be watching and taking part in activities in another Mother’s Day, without ever really knowing his mother.

That’s hard.

At school, he takes part in making a gift or card for moms. Yet, giving a mother’s day gift to your dad, just isn’t quite the same.

At Sunday School, he will make a craft for me or a grandmother, while other kids make a gift for their mom. Sometimes it makes him sad, but what can you say. You know life goes on. The rest of the world can’t stop celebrating holidays simply because it’s hurtful to you.

But sometimes that’s hard for a child to understand. But you know he has to.

There have been times when my son has cried for his mom, that he misses his mom. That usually happens when he’s really upset.

And I tell myself that – that he’s just upset. But it breaks my heart. Every time.

As a single dad, I can’t always replace what the kids are missing from their mom. Sure, I try to be both a mom and a dad. But I can’t really be a mom, too.

I couldn’t be a mom for my daughter when she was a teenager and needed her mom the most.

And I can’t be a mom for my son in the times he needs one, times when he needs the hug or comforting that only a mom can provide.

My kids have handled their loss remarkably well. Not perfectly, but well. In fact, I think they’ve done much better than I ever would have if I had been in the same situation.

But handling it well and being easy are not the same thing.

It’s still hard for them, some days harder than other days.

And while there are always going to be reminders, I try to remember to be patient. To give them enough love and support as they grow.

To always keep in mind that both chairs aren’t empty. And it’s the occupied chair that they’re looking to for the guidance that they need.

I just hope that I can always live up to that, and be the parent they need to help remind them that life is full of wonderful things, even in the midst of reminders of hard times.


  7 comments for “The Empty Chair

  1. May 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

    It is so heartbreaking to know what your family has to endure. Kids are resilient, but this kind of blow is a lifelong loss, no question. I can’t help but think about you as well. You speak of their loss as a Mother, but you have lost a relationship just as important and irreplaceable in losing your spouse. I can only hope that good things are in store for your family going forward, and you have more happy days than sad ones.

    • May 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind and caring words.

  2. May 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    That makes me want to cry. There is no replacement I know, I kept thinking I would have something to say that would make it all sound better or I dont know but as I started to type it it sounded silly. You are an amazing father, they had an amazing mother and she still watches over them I am sure of it xx

    • May 15, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      As always, I appreciate your support. It doesn’t sound silly at all. And I thank you for your kind words.


  3. Debbie
    May 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I can’t begin to imagine what my life would have been like without my Mother. I thank God everyday that I still have her. She will be 88 this summer. Your words tugged at my heart. Every child should have the chance to have their Mother with them, to tuck them in at night and wipe away their tears when they are hurt or sad. But Mark, from reading your blog, I know that you are doing a wonderful job raising your children. And I am sure they know it too. You and your children are truly Blessed to have each other.

    • May 15, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you, Debbie. I appreciate your kind words.

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