Last night as we sat at the dinner table, I noticed the empty chair and wondered why we hadn’t yet brought up the booster seat. My son is old enough to switch from his high chair to a booster, which would save space in the kitchen and allow our family of four to eat at the table together.
That fourth chair, the empty one, has yet to have someone fill it. For so long we were a family of three, and I had desperately wished for more children. We are now a family of four, but that chair has remained empty as our fourth member has needed some time to grow into it.
As I considered these things, my imagination started running wild as I thought about how that chair should already be filled, by the child whose presence on this earth was unseen. I imagined baby Micah, who would by now have grown to toddler size, sitting in that chair. I imagined what life would be like with three children filling the house. The additional chaos of a third child running wild from room to room. The additional noise of three children, not two, laughing and fighting and talking nonstop. The additional tears to wipe from scraped knees and face plants. The additional hugs and love that would be given to and received from a third child. The swelling of my heart not doubled, but tripled, as I quietly watched three children, instead of two, sleep soundly in bed each night. I had always thought I would have three children; that someday we would be a family of five, and for a few moments I let let myself think that we were.
While these scenarios had been imagined as I got caught up in a daydream, baby Micah’s life had not been imagined. It was as real as the lives of my other children, just shorter. And as I remembered the birth of each of my children, I realized we are a family of five, although it’s not what I pictured our family looking like. I was given the three children that I had hoped for; it’s just that two of them will fill chairs around the dinner table, and one will not.