The Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Many of us will be cooking and cleaning or preparing to travel to another’s home. This year will be a tough year for us. There will be several empty chairs at my mom’s table. Our little family will be elsewhere, and my sister-in-law is out of the country.
This will be especially difficult for her, not only will she be away from her husband and son, but she will be in her native country of Bolivia. The country is in political turmoil, riots are a daily occurrence, people are being seriously injured and killed. Due to roadblocks; food and medicine are in short supply in La Paz, where she happens to be.
She has gone to spend time with her father during his last days. As sad as this time is for her, it is also frightening, public buildings are being destroyed in the riots; including hospitals. Transportation is at a premium, is it unsafe to travel alone in the city.
She has been working to coordinate his funeral, making certain his estate is in order and ensuring he is receiving appropriate care in his final days. This is a challenge in the best of circumstances, but in a society where women are not accorded the same respect as men, makes it even more so. Every day is an emotional struggle and a battle of wits.
She is a strong woman, and I believe she will prevail, but it is still worrisome to our family.
Our family will not be the only one struggling with absence. Every family with military personnel, or first responders will be including a prayer for safety as the lack of presence is noted. Sighs of relief will be breathed when familiar footsteps arrive after a long shift. Some will not be so fortunate and this day of gratitude -will be forever remembered as a day of grief.
There will be some who will be alone despite being surrounded by others. The homeless, individuals in care facilities; who sit alone waiting for family who never comes. We all ache for connection.
I have several friends who are facing their first holiday without loved ones and will be bombarded with unexpected moments which will make them melancholy and renew their sense of loss. I know of others estranged from family, too ill or too far away to travel; making for a solitary day, accompanied only by the ghosts of holidays past.
My prayers will include the safekeeping of so many people, serenity for some, and the blessing of healing for others. I pray for kindness, compassion and generous bounty to share with those less fortunate. We will pray to be truly grateful for our many blessings, of which we are sometimes oblivious. I will pray for peace around us and within our souls.
I wish you all a joyful and bountiful holiday, regardless of the empty chairs in our lives.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.