In My Father’s House

The last two weeks have been ones of loss.

A family friend left this earth very unexpectedly after a quick and vicious fight with cancer. Gary was the kind of friend that is weaved into the earliest memories of my childhood. His family was one of the things that simply did not change.  As a child I spent summers in their backyard with popsicle melting down my hands and arms. Last year, our families gathered together for Thanksgiving, a night of too much food and just enough laughter. Gary was the only one who said the soup that I burned was delicious. I appreciated the lie. He was still so young. He and his wife were supposed to grow old together. And yet, last Saturday, at a service just so beautiful, I listened to his two children speak with eloquence about the man that raised them and left before it was time.

Yesterday, after a fall that she just could not get up from, the lovely woman my grandpa married last year passed into the morning. Laurel was my favorite mix of tough, tolerance and seersucker. She and my grandpa lost their first spouses to long and painful illnesses. When they met they were both on the wrong side of eighty. And yet, watching their courtship was one of the great instructions in the “how to of living” that I have received. They buzzed about in my grandpa’s too fast sports car, made marmalade into the early hours of the morning, and whispered good night in a bed that was made for two.  I know she had a lovely, long life. I know their last dance in the gathering dusk was more than most people get. I still feel like she left too soon.

Last night we all gathered at my parent’s house for dinner. It was my Dad’s 52nd birthday and the day Laurel went home. It seemed like we should do something to mark the occasion and when in doubt my mom makes gourmet meals that would put Gordon Ramsay to shame. The pots simmered on the stove and my mom, my tired, hold up the world mom, hurried around the kitchen chopping vegetables and crumbling cheeses. My parents always say that activity absorbs anxiety so I got up and went about setting the table. And somewhere in between folding the napkins and placing the glasses I began to cry. Because I didn’t want the chair next to my grandpa to be empty. Because it seemed like maybe if I just set their places, the people I have lost would come in for dinner, anyhow. Because I am learning that the table stays the same but the people around it change. An, my oh my, why can’t they just stay for a little more dessert?

It doesn’t do to cry when everyone else is trying to smile, so I walked into the dining room to compose myself. It is a little room full of beautiful wood cabinets and china that has passed from old hands to young ones for generations. There, surrounded by quiet and sparkling glass, I found myself once more. I could see clearly. I am blessed with the people I get to meet, catch hold of and then lose. They have not gone far. There is a table set, but it is in my heavenly parent’s house and there is room for everyone. I simply cannot see it. The people that have gone before me are waiting for me to come home for dinner.

And, my oh my, you should see the dessert.


  1. My oh my, indeed. What a beautiful image.

    I’m so, so sorry for your losses – we might know all the right answers, and the answers do bring comfort, but the grief of absence still hits like a hammer.

    Keep on. xx

    • Rach, thank you so much for your kind comment. I just really think we would be the most divine real life friends.

  2. Meg, I gasped when I read about your grandpa’s wife. I remember you sharing their lovely story not so long ago, and I’m so sorry to hear that she passed away so suddenly. Also so sorry to hear about your friend Gary. Life is so fragile and changes so suddenly. I love the analogy with heaven as well. Thanks for sharing and best wishes this week.

  3. Beautiful. Just, beautiful. So sorry for your losses, but thank you for painting this picture. I know they’re waiting for you.

    • Tracy, you are too lovely. Thank you so much. Don’t you think we should live close enough to go to dinner once in awhile?

  4. Love. You got it exactly right. Keep writing, because it is inspiring to those who take the time to read what you’ve written.

    • Bonnie, thank you so much for your encouraging words. You are too kind and I was so happy to see your comment here!

  5. Thank you Meggie Moo.

  6. Ashley Seil Smith


    This was so beautiful. I’m so glad I checked in on your blog tonight – I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately and you’ve written it all out so naturally. You have such a gift and such a wonderful message and I’m happy to see you sharing it with the world.

    XO Ashley

    • Ashley, you really are too sweet and I am going to have to insist that I buy you a delicious meal the next time I am in New York (which I really hope is sometime soon.)You, my dear, are the one with the gift. I would love to feature your amazing art work sometime. Totally inspired.

  7. Meg, sorry to hear about this recent loss. You’ve had a rough go of things, lately, it sounds. Thinking of you, & thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

    • Janae, as always thank you for coming to be a part of my little space in the world. Your support means so much and yes, the inevitability of loss doesn’t make it much easier.

  8. easily one of the most moving posts. ever.

  9. Thanks Meg. I was so hoping you would write about Dad, I haven’t been able to yet. Thank you for everything your family did for us while Dad was sick and at the memorial, your voice was lovely.


  1. 2012: A Shameless Retrospective | Meg In Progress

Leave a Reply

© megan conley 2012

designed by