The Empty Seat at the Table

One of the things we did every night on the cruise was get cleaned up and head down to the dining room for a nice, sit-down meal. The food was great, the service was excellent, and I have to say that it was nice having an excuse to “pretty up” before dinner every day.

We were placed at a table with two other families, all of us strangers. Each of the other families had three members – two parents and a young daughter, just a little older than my two girls. It was nice having people to chat with at the end of the day, compare notes and such. One of the little girls was particularly sweet and I’ll always think of her fondly when I remember this trip. It was also slightly awkward, making conversation with these strangers that we wouldn’t necessarily have reason to get to know otherwise. But still, it was an interesting experience, and one that I’m ultimately glad that I had. With the two other families and our party of four, there were ten of us sitting down to dinner together every night.

I spent a lot of the week we were on vacation thinking about CBG’s mom. I know I wasn’t the only one. It was a tough week for CBG’s dad – not only has it only been a short time since her death, but going on cruises was something that they loved doing together. Add to this the fact that the very last cruise the two of them went on (a year ago) was basically the same cruise, to all the same locations.  Also, his birthday fell on the very last night of the cruise – his first birthday without the love of his life. Talk about a lot to deal with.

CBG and I worked over the week to ensure that his dad had a good time, too. We stuck with him as much as possible (and as much as he wanted us around). We stayed upbeat and made him laugh. I know that this meant a lot to him. There were a lot of times, though, when I would look at him and see the wheels turning inside his head, and know that his heart was breaking. There were a few tears shed over the week by all three of us.

All week long I couldn’t help but notice CBG’s mom’s absence. Although I didn’t get to know her very well, and during the time I did know her she wasn’t herself, I couldn’t help but think how much joy it would have brought her to be there with all of us together. I thought of how she would have smiled and laughed (and even rolled her eyes a little) at CBG’s antics. I thought of how she would have loved the beautiful sights that we saw. I thought about how much fun it would have been to go souvenir shopping for my girls with her. I thought about how she and I would have bonded over the chocolate dessert. For the entire week, it really did feel like someone was missing from the equation. I can’t imagine how it must have felt for CBG and his dad.

The saddest moment of all was the night of CBG’s dad’s birthday. We had a cake brought to the table and the waiters  (and the table of “strangers” we were sitting with sang happy birthday. He got all choked up, not just at the gesture, but at the fact that he missed his wife. How could he not?

It was at that moment that I looked around the table and realized something. All week long we’d been sitting in the dining room with these same people every night, 10 of us altogether. Interestingly, though….the table was always set for 11. There was always one extra seat at that table, every single night. I hadn’t noticed or thought about it until the very last night, as we sat there watching CBG’s dad tear up over his first birthday cake without his wife.

The seat at the table belonged to CBG’s mom, who was there with us in spirit the entire week. There’s going to be an empty space in all of our hearts for a good long while to come.

7 Responses

  1. Wow..didn’t expect to get teary-eyed reading this.

    Mom would have loved to have gotten to know you better. She would have fallen in love with you and considered you and the girls part of the family like my father already has.

    She was definitely sitting with us the whole week.


  2. Aw! This made me cry too. 😦

    Beautiful post.

  3. Way to make me cry K!

    This was really beautiful, I enjoyed it so much.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Lovely words from a very wise lady.

  5. aww! Man. This post got me too, and CBG’s comment did me in completely. What a small yet huge reminder, that 11th seat. She WAS there in spirit, and Sunshine, she would have (and likely very much does) loved you.

  6. Oh my gosh…such a touching post. CBG is lucky to have you and I’m sure his mom is glad he has you in his life.

  7. Beautiful post. I’m sure his mom is looking down thinking how lucky she is that you get to be part of her family now. Sounds like those men need a strong woman around. 🙂

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