I woke up this morning thinking not so much about food, about how we come together to share meals together and create memories. This year, I have been reminded in numerous ways that sometimes this is not possible and sometimes what has not been possible becomes possible. This past week so many people around the world celebrated traditions which brought families and people together. My Facebook feed was filled with images of families gathering, sharing meals, creating memories and reinforcing traditions.
At the same time, I have friends for whom this was not possible. Those they loved were in hospitals, incarcerated, and for others reasons were unable to be at the table. Growing up in a Jewish household every year at the Passover Seder we would pour a cup of Wine for the Prophet Elijah. As a child, I understood it as we were holding a space for him at the table. As an adult, I understand it is a reminder of a gathering of a larger family and at a larger table.
However, this year I was reminded that many find their own ways of creating space at the table. Most years, we open our doors here at Inspiritual to all who need a space to gather on holidays as we believe it is not our table, but one that belongs to all of humanity. This year, for one of my friends, was the first year their matriarch was not with them to celebrate Easter. They made space at the table for an empty chair and each person shared a story about how her spirit had resurrected itself in their life that year. Another one of my friends has had a stuffed animal sitting in a chair at the table to reserve that space for a family member who has been unable to be with them for decades. This year that space was filled by that family member’s presence. It was for both of these families a time of creating new memories and keeping memories alive.
A friend of mine passed away a little over a month ago. She found her own way of claiming a spot at our table. A few days before her death she had given us a bouquet of flowers. They lasted for over a month. They have finally shed their leaves. It never ceases to amaze me how we claim ways of making space at the table for those we love. The memories we build around the table may change over time, but the memories are still ours to hold and to cherish.