Hurdle Sixteen: Of Grattitude and an Empty Chair

An empty chair.  That is one of the saddest things about the holidays, these days.  That fifth chair at the table.  Zachary’s chair.  Empty air.  A missing voice at the table.

I need not explain it, mostly because I cannot.

I think, though, that I could easily bog down in pity and piety and anxiety and loss; although I don’t suspect that anyone, least of all Zachary, would find that a very good way to spend Thanksgiving Day.  There is a purpose to this day, a uniquely American, statutory day, that transcends gluttony and football.  There should be, at least for a moment, a pause of gratitude for the things we have, for the things we have lost; for what is to come, and for what might well be.

There is a certain satisfaction in stopping and looking around the house, large or small, mansion or not; in looking at the kids, no matter their current temperament; apprising the things we have accumulated, needed or not, and thinking; you know, despite it all, despite the roadblocks and speed bumps,  despite the challenges and roundabouts, despite the arguments and tantrums and headaches and set backs, I’ve done OK, and I am thankful for that. I might not be where I want to be, but where I’m at is better than maybe I ever thought I could do or would do or even deserve.  And I’m thankful for that.

It’s funny, having just written that, but before Zachary died, I admit, wholeheartedly admit, that enough was never enough and more seemed just out of reach.  It is hard to be thankful when you feel you’ve not gotten yours, yet.

But that empty chair.   That empty chair, reminds me to see, hear and touch what is now, and to give thanks for each sensation, thought, feeling and emotion, because they are fleeting and then they are gone.  That is not, in my opinion, fatalistic; it is realistic. And it’s not a downer, it is the quintessential moment. 

Last night I had dinner with a couple of friends whom I really enjoy passing the time with, whom I really like, and for once, that was enough.  Just being was enough, and I’m thankful for that.

Tomorrow, I will see my family; there is a roof over their heads and food on the table, and I am thankful for that.

And yes, tomorrow, I surely will look at old photos of Zack, and cry and reminisce and I will stare at that empty chair, but that chair is only significant because of who Zack was and the memories and thoughts and feelings he inspires.

And I am Thankful for that.

There’s always a place at the table for you son, I know, we never eat alone.  The chair is never really empty.  And that’s enough.  I am thankful for that. 

Thanks, Zack.


About daniel marco

For 23 years I practiced criminal defense. Then, on October 17, 2010, two men murdered my son. They were arrested a month later. It is a death penalty case. So I am coping not only with my son's death, but doubt about the purpose of my entire professional career.
This entry was posted in bereavement, grief, grief murdered child, grief recovery, grieving parent, holidays and loss or grief, inspiration, life after death of child, loss of child, parent of murdered child, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Hurdle Sixteen: Of Grattitude and an Empty Chair

  1. Driana says:

    Many people will have an empty chair tommorrow my friend, but they will also be thankful , to have many other blessings in their lives. Is hard to know that a voice won’t be heard, a laughter or just a regular conversation. But the memories, those precious memories will always remain. Many Blessings to you and your family. Wishing you peace….

  2. Thank You for writing your feelings so that others who can not even pretend to know how you feel, can be reminded to stop…take a breath…and appreciate the moment, good or indifferent. I have children who bicker and argue, I find myself at times, more of a referee than a parent. I need to treasure them more. Thank You for reminding us to be thankful for every moment, and sometimes, just being…is good enough.

  3. Fran says:

    So well written Dan, you are very inspiring and can write it so beautifully and effortlessly, what we are all feeling. I admire your heartfelt feelings and thoughts being shared. Thank you.

  4. Sandy Tidd says:

    Yet another blog that makes us all think, maybe to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life. Every day our lives change, some small things and some big things. But I feel the one thing we all have, is our memories, and that is something no one can take…….

  5. Barbara says:

    Dan your speech, writing and communication skills are excellent. Your desire and destiny, now shown clearly in your writings, that seem to flow naturally, to protect, guide, motivate and inspire others by reclaiming your power as well as Zachary’s. Sharing Zachary’s energetic, out going personality and his passionate spirit. Both of you making a significant contribution to the world. You have show people how to wake up from the illusion of limitation that we are powerless, this is a life changing revelation for many. Divine Blessings

  6. click says:

    really useful stuff, on the whole I picture this is worthy of a book mark, thank you

  7. Matthew Prentice says:

    That was beautiful Dan. Happy Thanksgiving

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