In 2007, our mother passed away. That space had a noticeable difference, a vacancy. Each weekend as we returned home to comfort, assist and grieve this loss with our father, it still was the gathering space, albeit with a box of Kleenex. (Oh, and honestly wine. Lots of red wine) Long conversations into early morning hours, and the reminiscing of 30+ previous years sharing that space helped to heal the edges of our hearts. A loss far too great, but we learned to navigate the space in a different way, and grew to learn of our dad in a different way, as well. You see, previous to her passing, he was always an involved and dedicated father, who would do anything, “for his girls”. But her death brought him closer to dealing with the feminine--motherhood, “husband arguments”, “girl-things”. And he stepped in willingly, emphatically, and throwing his discomfort aside.
The family table thrived despite this significant loss, just in a different way.
2014 brought all of us an unexpected and hearty loss. Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Despite his best attempts, the realization of leaving this world to be with his soul mate far outweighed the strength of his 79 year old body. (But not his heart). The past year has left us with his empty house, an empty table. True, when we gather there it is a reclaimed space, and one to celebrate, mourn and share amazing stories.
As a woman who married into an existing family, (a father and two amazing children--Remington and Ciara) I also became the new owner of another family table. A table passed on through a divorce, yet still held the hearts of four adults wanting only the best for their children. Multiple birthdays, holidays and evenings passed by with four adults seated around it navigating step-parenting, homework and again life’s change of course for us. That table, as ingrained in me, was the anchor of our family. Conversations, guests, celebrations, the place where we grieved some more, the space that served meals fabulous and not so fabulous, but always with good intentions. I loved this space dearly, and it was one that was the glue to a family navigating learning your roles in adulthood, marriage, step-parenting, being an adoptive momma...the list goes on…
Last week, my dear husband surprised me with an amazing gift for my birthday. Those of you who know me know that I am not materialistic, but perhaps a bit-too-sentimental. He asked me to keep the afternoon of my birthday open for a surprise. He picked me up after I was finished with work and said, “I want you to pick out something for you, a new dining room table”. At the end of a year where the losses have felt so great, and the knowledge that the world is on fire around us in so many ways, these words reached so far beyond a material acquisition. This was a promise for an open ended number of years of a new beginning of conversations, recognition of attempts failed and won, hearts hurt and healed. New hope, the thought of new memories and discourse to be shaped in friendly yet compassionate banter.
So, I am sitting here, with my MacBook, a head full of 40+ years of memories of where the past “tables” have brought me, at a new table-- a new and sturdy table--as it will need to be. And I am optimistic. I wholeheartedly give a “pre blessing” to all who will sit here with us and share what you bring to our table. Know you are welcome, unjudged, and blessed by us for sharing with us that which what will make us better people. We know that in this space a part of your soul will be left here, whether you realize it or not at the time you are here. We thank you. For making us better. For making us more part of you.
In deep gratitude and hope.