Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The Empty Chair
The tears welled in my eyes as I parked my car. Breathe, I tell myself. Hold it together. As I approached the restaurant entrance, there was no one for me to walk in with. My two friends were already there. I had to do this alone. I took a deep breath and walked in. Strangely, the restaurant wasn't as I remembered, although it was the same as my last visit with my friends, one year ago. I had been in it once since it had been remodeled, but in my mind's eye, I was still expecting it to be the dark, cozy small place it had once been. I looked around a minute before spying my two friends sitting in the new part of the restaurant, bright and airy. I hugged each them hello, holding back the tears in my eyes. Don't cry, I told myself. He would have wanted you to go on.
As I sat down, it wasn't long before the banter started. "I think I am going to have the Gyro," I said. "Annie, you are the only person I know you calls it a year-o,” my friend says, “It is a gi-ro here." We jokingly argued back and forth. When the waitress takes my order, I tell her I want a "year-o or gi-ro, whatever you call it here."
We caught up on where people were and what was happening in their lives. We caught up with what was going on in town. We talked about our jobs and family. We joked. We laughed. We reminisced. And all the while, the fourth chair at the table remained painfully empty. I tried not to look in that direction.
Since we last met a year ago, our foursome tragically became a threesome. The Jerry Seinfeld of our group, the funniest one, the one we all loved, was violently taken from our lives. In my mind, I can vividly picture last year. I can see the booth we sat at, what we wore, and the laughter. It had been a while since we had all four been together. It was like old times. I am not quite sure outsiders really got our friendship, but it didn’t matter. We all had a calling to help children and we all worked as hard as we could to make a difference. We knew each other’s hearts. We knew each other’s souls.
We didn’t know on that cold, gray November day that it would be the last time we would all be together. Maybe we would have lingered a bit longer. Maybe appointments would have been ignored, job duties cast aside. Maybe we would have taken a photo of us all together (we never did have one). Maybe we would have hugged longer. I don’t know. We were just happy to be together once again and living in the moment.
But now, we just have the empty chair.
One that was once full of life and love.
It will be forever empty.
And yet we go on.
This was written in memory of my beloved friend, Chris, who was tragically murdered April 5, 2012. You can read more about it HERE.