Eventually, we refinished the table and bought new chairs. We moved it all over the panhandle, until we landed in, what I thought would be our permanent home in the country.
Besides great meals, the table saw hours upon hours of homework and hobbies. I used it's surface a hundred times, cutting out patterns and cloth for the dresses my girls would wear. It heard the teary confessions from close friends and family, as well as tall tales and laughter. A million I love you's were said over that table.
In the days after my daughter died, our house was full of loved ones, family and friends. I remember looking at the faces of my brothers around the table, as they struggled to offer comfort in the midst of their own pain. I saw Lauren's friends gathered for a meal around it, needing each other's company, as well as mine.
A month later, Eric and Sarah were home for a family wedding. We sat around the table eating and trying not to look at Lauren's empty chair. It was just too hard for me to take, so when we moved to town, I convinced Jon we needed a new table.
Now, the old, drop leaf table sits, covered in the barn. We drag it out, when needed, and use it in the greenhouse or backyard for family reunions and parties. People still sit around it, telling their tall tales of golf and fishing. The sadness has left their faces and everything seems normal again.
I still have an ache in my heart when I see the old table, but I am so thankful for the memories. I look forward to the day I see grandchildren with koolaide smiles and wet bathing suits gathered around it for a birthday party.
Father's day is coming up. I think it's time to call my brothers and dad, drag the table out of the barn, burn some burgers and listen to some old stories.