The empty chair
It feels strange to enter a house, look around, see and feel the presence of the people who live there but know that some of them will never return. It is an odd feeling to look at their favourite objects – like the large armchair that dominates the room, and realise that you will never see them again being there with them. The feeling struck Ariana the minute she walked into the house. She had just said her last goodbye to her grandfather. The grandfather who raised her when her parents were overworking themselves in order to secure a decent living for their family.
She had held on to everything so well throughout the four days of his passing, the funeral service, and the condolences. She had managed to limit the demonstration of her grief to a few tears that escaped from her welled-up eyes. She was holding it all together quite well.
Until that moment when she walked into her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother was either hiding her grief all too well or she had made her peace with everything. After all, she knew better than everyone that this man did not deserve to suffer so much. It was better this way. He was relieved and she was calmer now that he was somewhere better. At peace.
Ariana could not bear to see her grandfather tubed-up. Neither of her grandparents allowed her to visit too often for this reason. It was better that she maintained in her head the image of the strong, resilient and active man who had raised her, who chased after her in the yard when she was small, who surprised her with extravagant gifts from his trips abroad, who consoled her when she was heartbroken, who made her laugh even at the most trivial things. That was the person she should lock up in her memory.
In the middle of the living room, facing the television set, there was a large embroidered armchair. It was her grandfather’s favourite and he had exclusive rights over it. When she was very young, Ariana would crawl up in his arms right in that chair and fall asleep, after which he would carry her to bed, the nights she would stay over. Ariana loved her grandparents to pieces and now a full-grown woman she still felt the need for them to be present in her life. But when she witnessed that empty chair, something instantly cracked inside of her and she stood in the middle of the living room facing the chair, the tears streaming down her cheeks. All her reserved grief suddenly caught up with her. In a silent overwhelming flood of tears.
She placed a single red rose and a large stem of white lilies on the chair, securing that no one would sit there. This was his place and at least for that day it should remain so.
In time, she would manage to view it in a different perspective. But for that day she had to accept that sometimes it is better to grieve and let it all out. In the end, it is all part of the healing process. It helps you move on and never forget.