185 Empty Chairs … Remembering

Recently a dear friend told me about a memorial in one of the most beautiful and special places in the world, Christchurch, New Zealand, called 185 Empty Chairs. Hearing about this memorial was new for me. The memorial artfully, vividly and poignantly remembers and honors the 185 people who died in the February 2011 earthquake. The memorial is literally 185 chairs painted white, each unique to each victim. Hearing about this special place spoke to me for so many reasons. Perhaps you would want to see the Facebook posting for the memorial which I had not seen before.

And the following poem said so much. May we always, always remember those who go before us, and who hopefully we will see again.

Blessings, Melody

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

John O’Donohue