Page 27 - Scene Magazine 45-12 December 2020
P. 27

the
Based on a True Event By Sharon Powell
  Empty Chair Christmas
    SCENE MAGAZINE’S 2020 CHRISTMAS STORY CONTEST
      The day had arrived. Christmas day. We had been preparing and planning
for this day for weeks. The smell of the turkey cooking in the oven filled the whole house. Christmas cookies and pies on the side table lay waiting for grandkids to arrive and devour. Beautiful noise would soon fill the air – the sound of wrapping paper ripping along with giggles and awes! The lights this year seemed to shine even brighter on the tree, every or- nament glitter in the glow of the season. Everything would be perfect except this year there would be an empty chair.
As much as I love the holidays, I had wondered how I would handle that empty chair. A loved one taken from us suddenly and way too soon.
It started out as any other normal day, up by 5am, coffee steaming from my cup and then off to work. The November air was getting colder and I sat in the car waiting for the frost on the window to melt. There was no clue that anything out of the ordinary would happen. No warning that my world be turned upside down. No way to prepare myself for the incredible loss we would all have to bear.
About mid-way though my morning my cell phone rang. It was my son-in- law’s supervisor. He informed me that Brett had suffered a brain aneurism and had been taken to the hospital. He said my daughter Lynn had already been informed and was on route and I could meet her there.
I did not know what to think, Brett was young and in great health, how could this be so?
daughter was already talking with the doctor. They had made the decision to fly Brett to a nearby medical center that would be more equipped to treat his type of injuries.
I stayed close to my daughter; she looked as confused and scared as I felt.
Throughout the day more family and friends arrived at the hospital. Their presence there, along with their prayers, bought us comfort. Doctors came and went with their clipboards held tight
in their hands and their heads close together. By late afternoon three doctors came in the room with grim looks on their faces, we knew it was not going to be good news. The doctors explained that the aneurism had caused Brett’s brain to bleed and that surgery was not an option, the survival rate was less than 5%.
Brett had made his wishes clear many times over the years, he did not want to live on artificial means, so we made the decision to unplug his breathing machine. At first, he was breathing on his own but soon his body began to shut down and we said our goodbyes and hello to that empty chair.
Now just six short weeks later we had arrived to what in years past had been the happiest for our family. We had decorated the tree, watched the holiday movies, went through all the motions to make this season as normal as possible, especially for my daughter who had just lost the love of her life.
As family gathered, I waited with an- ticipation for Lynn to arrive, not knowing what to expect.
When her car pulled up I watched as
she unpacked the items she had bought and made her way in. She came in with a big smile on her face which surprised me a little, she explained that her neigh- bor had come by early that morning with a gift from Brett. Confused I ask her what she meant, she said that just
a week before his death, Brett had left a gift for her with the neighbor to hold on too until Christmas, Brett knew that Lynn was a bit of a snoop, so he always came up with clever ways to hide her gifts. That was just like Brett, always thinking ahead.
When she opened the gift, it was a beautifully framed collage of pictures from their last vacation, memories for Lynn to treasure forever. The gift and the thought of how Brett knew what this gift would mean to her had lifted Lynn spirits. She had not expected anything from him
this year, yet he had left her a beautiful memento for her to cling to.
Our holiday festivities began and it was a lovely day, even though we often took a look at the empty chair at the table and our hearts ached just a bit, we knew this was our new normal, we would always have that empty chair.
This is Christmas, empty chair and
all, and somehow as a family we will still celebrate the season and the life that had occupied that chair for all too short of a time, and feel blessed that we were able to have that beautiful soul with us for as long as we did.
This short story is dedicated to the memory of my brother-in-law who we lost on November 9, 2020. Rest in forever peace.
When I arrived at the hospital my
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