Monday, December 4, 2017

Finding meaning in the gaps

The memory brought forth by the Facebook algorithm for today (Tuesday, December 5) was a picture of my son, Brodie interacting with a toy version of the Big Red Car. In the foreground, were all his Mr Men figures, spread across the bed. His hair was ruffled and he was dressed in pyjamas that featured children carrying flags with numbers on them. It is a photo of a child at play, a story unfolding as he directs his cast of many.

I went to post the picture, with something pithy as an editorial piece earlier this afternoon. There was a moment between when I was interacting with some people and then I was heading off to the shops – not a huge moment, or a large gap of time, but enough for there to be a space in what I was doing. It was a gap – a gap in time, a gap in my thought process, a gap in my behaviour.

I reached for the phone and immediately went to fill that gap, by writing and posting something to social media.

This is how grief is: you have this constant sense of a gap, a realisation that something that once was there now isn’t. Not the absence of the loved one - that is a profound missing in its own right. And I miss Celena. Terribly. Achingly.

The gap I am referring to is the one borne out of established habits no longer helping; of realising that what once worked can no longer be applied; your values, your principles, the entire fabric of what made you who you are has to be…remade.

When I realised what I was doing – looking to occupy my time and thinking, by posting a picture and some words – I was able to achieve a victory of sorts. I stopped myself. I put the phone away and I focused on that short walk to the shops.

As the day has unfolded, I have been able to articulate to a friend some of what I am now writing about here. I know there will be many more moments, in the days, weeks, months and years ahead when I look to try and fill all these gaps I sense opening up around me. It will be tempting to fall back on that which I know in order to ensure those fissures in time, energy and thinking do not become large enough for me to fall into them completely.

Celena was always very intentional about her writing. She didn’t put pen to paper unless she was particularly moved. Her poetry, her novel writing, her cross stitching and all her craft, was always undertaken with an air of deliberation and never on a whim. This piece was penned with that same sense of deliberation because I avoided acting on a whim.
Writers fill pages with prose and craft stories that nestle snugly between two book covers. They bring into being something that was not there before. They fill a gap we never even knew existed.

I began by referring to the picture of Brodie and the story that was unfolding before him on the bed. Perhaps he was reminding me of my gift as a story teller and Celena is urging me to think before acting, to pause before penning. Maybe, in this season of loss and yearning, I am meant to find meaning for myself in my writing?
It is one answer that fills one gap. For now, it will do.


  1. There is nothing I can do or say to comfort you from your pain. But the memories are beautiful x

    1. Thank you Elisha. The gaps are everywhere - I intend to fill them slowly, deliberately and in ways that honour my wife and children.

  2. David what a beautiful way to look at what is happening and I admire your strength not finding relief in distraction as many of us do.