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That Empty Space

This past Sunday I traveled back to Minnesota to visit my dad. When I visit him now, it feels like his house. It took me a while to get to this point, the point where visiting him isn’t mostly incredibly sad because my mom is no longer there to visit too. For quite a while after my mother died, just walking around in their house or in their yard was really hard, really sad and made me physically and emotionally upset.

My mother’s presence was gone, but at the same time it was everywhere. I could actually feel it.

I guess I have finally made some progress on this journey of being a daughter without a mother.

This latest visit with my dad at his house was quite pleasant, although all visits/events of this kind are now ones with considerably less fanfare than when my mother was in charge of such things. At the end of our visit, we said our goodbyes and I drove away like I always do now, thinking about how our saying goodbye routine has changed since my mother‘s passing.

My mother was the “queen of goodbyes.” She perfected the simple act of saying goodbye following every visit into an art form. Saying goodbye after a visit with her was something that could never be ignored or hurried. Sometimes I think she purposely made goodbyes a lengthy process in order to extend our visits as long as possible.

These days when I visit my dad, one thing that really stands out to me, is that our goodbyes are different. Mostly, they are much quicker.

Another thing I notice is that this goodbye time is a time I really miss my mom and I always will. I miss those long goodbyes she loved so much.

Even now when I get into my car and pull out of the driveway, I still expect to see my mother standing there on the front porch or on the driveway waving to me as I drive off. Instead, now all I see is that empty space where she is supposed to be standing.

I’ve become more accustomed to that empty feeling in the house. It no longer bothers me as much when I’m there, but I’ll never become accustomed to seeing that empty space where she is supposed to be standing when I drive away.

It’s just an empty space, but yet it’s so much more…

Just like you always hear from the “experts,” it’s so often those simple things you miss the most about someone when they are gone. It doesn’t even have to be something tangible. It might be their scent. It might be a particular mannerism. It might be a certain expression on their face. It might be their laugh. It might be the way their presence filled up a room.

Or it might be the way they said goodbye.

Note:  I wrote an essay called, “The Queen of Goodbyes,” which was published in the October 2010 issue of Grief Digest magazine. Here is a link to it in case you’d like to read it. queenofgoodbyes

Are goodbyes a big deal in your family?

Does your family have an empty space?

What is something you miss about a lost loved one?



My mom’s roses 


Ginny @ Lemon Drop Pie

Saturday 25th of June 2011

Such a beautiful post about missing Mom, Nancy. I don't think I'll ever get over missing my mom. She had a way with goodbyes as well.

On Monday, I leave to go to my Dad's house to help pack up some of Mom's things...he will be getting remarried in July and that brings up all sorts of conflicting emotions. His fiance is a wonderful woman, but it is strange to think of her being his wife. It will be an interesting journey.


Saturday 25th of June 2011

Ginny, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for your kind words. We never stop missing them, that's for sure. I imagine your trip to your dad's house will be quite emotional for many reasons. I'm sure thinking of him with a new wife will feel strange even though you are also happy for him. Good luck with everything. I'll be thinking of you. Let me know how it all goes for you.


Saturday 25th of June 2011

Nancy, this was a nice post which I hope you shared with your dad....

Hugs to you.

:-) Lisa


Saturday 25th of June 2011

Lisa, Thanks for reading and commenting. My dad has a copy of the magazine, but I have not shared the post. Such things make him quite uncomfortable...


Friday 24th of June 2011

I miss how much Grandma adored me and did not try to hide this at all. She seemed to notice and comment on everything I did and even on the way I looked - and she never criticized. I don't get that kind of pure, 100 percent positive (and honest!) feedback from anyone else I know.

I also miss all the roadtrips I went on with my grandma and playing silly games in the car. We seemed to do well at getting each other to laugh.


Saturday 25th of June 2011

Lindsay, Thanks for sharing a couple of things you miss about your grandma. You're right, she certainly did adore you!! I'm glad you have such nice memories.


Friday 24th of June 2011

Nancy, what a beautiful post - so glad I took the time to read it (sometimes one must make time when one doesn't have time)!

I could feel some of what you were feeling in your home, I think, and your discussion of "goodbye" took me back...

My mom used to say, literally, "No goodbyes." It was so difficult for her to take her leave or watch us take ours (as adults when we lived in different cities), that she would fight back tears (sometimes unsuccessfully) and say, "No goodbyes. We'll see each other soon."

I find myself doing that as well, in my own way. I say "Hasta la vista" or "Hasta luego" sometimes.

Haven't been to Dad and Jude's since Dad's death, or rather a month after - and am afraid of it. Truly afraid. My stepmom has totally remodeled my dad's office/guest room and all traces of him are gone. Even his old desk has been refinished.I'm avoiding going until I feel strong enough. She wants me to come and see it.... Anyway, I'm blathering.

Thanks again for this lovely post, and xox, Lori


Friday 24th of June 2011

Lori, Thanks so much for taking time to read my blog. I really appreciate it considering all you are dealing with. Thanks for sharing some memories about your parents. It's understandable why you are afraid of visiting your dad's home. You are probably wise to wait until you are stronger and feel more ready. It will be difficult at first, especially with all the changes made. Thanks for your kind comments, Lori, and I send my best wishes your way.

Chez Radford

Friday 24th of June 2011

Thank you for sharing your precious memories Nancy. I have not yet read your Essay The Queen of Goodbyes.' That is for another day. I do remember one of the last times I said goodbye to my Mum. She and Joe had used their walkers to walk with us out to the car park. They then used them as seats as they waved us goodbye. I have vivid memories of that visit. Mum died less than one month before Jeremy and I have never grieved for her. Jeremy's passing and my cancer are the thoughts that stay with me constantly. Live, Love and Laugh♥


Friday 24th of June 2011

Chez, Thank you for sharing a memory of yours. It's sad, yet perfectly understandable why you never grieved for your mom. You were swallowed up by the other events that quickly followed her death. I do hope things are going ok for you as you cope with your latest challenges.

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