In every life, at every holiday, there are empty chairs, reserved for the people we love who are no longer with us.
This year I will look for my mother. I will expect to see her smiling over the funny trinkets in the aisles at Walmart. I will expect to hear her laugh when that stuffed snowman at the plastic piano sings, "Have a holly, jolly Christmas." I will go on thinking how I need to get a gift for her, and then I will remember, she has everything she needs.
A couple nights ago, I walked the dogs in the mist, in the long shadows of bare tree limbs, and the falling temps. The moon was full, and the last of the crickets sang a dirge to the fall. It has long been my custom to stare up at the moon and say, "I see the moon and the moon sees me," and to remember that everyone I love is exactly where they should be, and just as close and as constant as the moon.
But that rhyme rings hollow these days.
My mother's chair is empty.