Empty Chair

It is 3am. In three hours I will walk into roll call and see his chair and he won’t be in it.

We came up in this job together. There have been moments of complete terror. Moments of exceptional pride in helping people for whom all hope had been lost. Moments where we said “they’re paying us to do this? I’d do this for free.”

I was prepared for his chair to be empty. The first one in the door is the first one to retire. That’s how it works. I knew I’d see the chair empty in a few months. I was prepared for that. He’d leave, I’d leave 18 months later.

I’m not prepared for this.

The day after the last funeral we attended, we talked about how we hated hearing Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes. We were never going to hear that song again. It was a settled issue. He finished his cup of coffee and cursed me for not having any at my desk for him. I cursed him back for not knowing after all these years I don’t drink coffee. He left to go on out on the street. As usual, I’d finish my paperwork and then follow.

Today I will face his empty chair. I’ll finish my paperwork and go out on the street.

Tuesday I will face the bagpipes.


38 Comments on “Empty Chair”

  1. omawarisan says:


    I am going to re-run a few old posts this week and may be a little less attentive here. Bear with me. I am going to take a couple days to gather myself.

    I will be back on with new stuff in a few days. There are still words that need to come out of me. Letting those words out has been an amazing experience for me that will go on, but maybe not this week.

    Talk amongst yourselves. 😉


  2. Jane says:

    Don’t worry, Oma–we’ll cover for you.

    There is no sound more gut-wrenching than Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Why add to the tears? Is that supposed to make sure that the deceased gets a dignified send-off?

    • thejaggedman says:

      My wife and I walked the aisle to the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace over seventeen years ago and we will hopefully leave this life to the same. For us it is simply a song we love played on an instrument that moves us like no other.

      • Jane says:

        You’re right about the instrument. I would sob just as hard if I heard that song, played on bagpipes, at a wedding.

        Sometimes, I just need to keep my brain shut.

  3. Hippie Cahier says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

  4. Sending you healing thoughts as you deal with the loss of your friend, Oma…we’ll be here when you get back…


  5. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Oh, Oma. Take all the time you need. Grieve, repair, remember. We love you and protect you with our prayers.

  6. June B. Stewart says:

    Oma, I’m so sorry for your loss. Grieve as long as you need, it’s important in the long run. You’re in our prayers.

  7. spencercourt says:

    And just before his retirement too….not right at all.

  8. Pie says:

    Oma, I am so sorry. What rotten timing for your friend, being so close to retirement too. Sometimes life is truly unfair.

    I happen to love the bagpipes. That sound can really hit you in the gut if it’s played right and Amazing Grace is particularly emotional.

    You take all the time you need, fella. A few days/weeks off the blog is not going to hurt. We’ll be waiting for you.

  9. Zahara says:

    Oh, Oma, I’m so sorry to hear about your partner.
    That last line caught me off guard, I literally jumped in my chair, then cried a bit.
    Take care of yourself.

  10. linlah says:

    I’ll wait right here and hope that soon there will be peace in your heart.

  11. Laura says:

    Oh, Oma. I’m so sorry.

  12. thejaggedman says:

    I am sorry are mere words but they are is all I have. May they be enough and may peace find you this day.

  13. We found him Captain!! says:

    Sorry for your loss. May the memories of those moments of exceptional pride help you during this time of mourning. Those of us who realize the magnitude of the effort made daily by the men and women in uniform salute you and each of them. We pray for your safekeeping.

    The empty chair at roll call should be suitably engraved and remain unoccupied in memory of your deceased comrade.

    I will stand with you during Amazing Grace on Tuesday. Stay strong, safe……and peace be with you.

  14. Thypolar says:

    So sorry for your loss, Oma. My thoughts are with you.

  15. Todd Pack says:

    I’m so sorry, Oma. That’s just not fair. God bless.

  16. My thoughts are with you.

    My grandson, the oldest of three living with me, was a babe in arms when my father-in-law died. We sang amazing grace at his funeral. I’ve always liked the song but anytime, after that, that I tried to sing it, baby grandson would reach up and cover my mouth. I could sing 127 verses of “I gave my love a cherry that had no stone” but not one of Amazing Grace. I too cry when I hear it on the bagpipes.

  17. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sending some good thoughts your way!

  18. planetross says:

    “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”

    Eskimo Proverb

  19. gmomj says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    I hope you find your peace soon.

  20. Words never do the thoughts justice…and so my thoughts are with you…

  21. Melissa says:

    So sorry for your loss and the tough times ahead. It’s so hard to face those empty chairs sometimes.

  22. N B says:

    I really don’t have the right words. I am truly sorry for your loss. Please take the time you need to gather yourself and come to a better place. Remember that you are loved.

    Prayers, Good thoughts, and best wishes from my heart to yours.

  23. So sorry for your loss. Stay strong. be good to yourself.

  24. omawarisan says:

    Thank you everyone. Thank you. Your thoughts here and on email have been inspiring and a great help to me. Did I say thank you?

  25. Kim Pugliano says:

    OMA! You’re a cop?!? My daddy was LAPD!!

  26. maggie says:

    i just cried a little bit. i’ve been a bit caught up in world away from computer screen, so my condolescences are late (and perhaps mispelt…), but still very heartfelt.
    I’ve had colleagues pass suddenly and unexpectedly and it never seems real… but I’ve never had to face an empty chair 😦

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