The Gift of Vacancy
Maybe outside of the expected realm of topics for an event producer like myself, but I'd like to write a bit about vacancy. I'm not talking about apartments without tenants. Well, not literally. But that's a good metaphor for what I'm talking about.
As some of you know, I'm a widow. My husband died almost a dozen years ago and that's how I got into this business, really. He was the event producer and I worked for him before he got ill. Through his long final sickness (cancer—don't smoke...really), I learned to do what he'd done and what I'd done all wrapped into one so I could (and did) take over when he was gone. The long process of understanding and integrating grief has taught me a lot of things, one of which came up this morning in the shower: Vacancy. This is what often happens when someone loses a relationship, whether to death or to other kinds of loss, like breakups and falling-outs.
I have experienced vacancy in my life many times. The most obvious was when George died. His death opened up a vacancy in my world. I no longer had him as a husband. We were polyamorous, in other words, we had other romantic partners, and I wasn't single. But I wasn't married to him any more.
I wanted, desperately, to fill that vacancy, and I searched for years to try to make it happen. I tried to mold my other partner and, later, other people into the empty space left by George. It just didn't (and really couldn't) happen. The space in my world occupied by him was one that could never be filled by another person. He was utterly and completely unique. While others could fill parts of that space, no one could fill them all, and even with multiple partners, there were still empty gaps.
This morning, while showering, I pondered the space that was left by George. When I thought about it, what came to my mind was that it had caused a vacancy in my world. And that wasn't bad. Bad and good are judgments we almost arbitrarily apply to things, I mean, other than obviously awful things like the Holocaust.
The vacancy he left opened space for all kinds of other things to happen that would never have happened otherwise. Of course, those otherwise things might have been wonderful, too, but since they didn't happen, I'm not going to fantasize about them. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the gift of vacancy. It grants me a resilience to deal with difficulties and see the possibilities in the worst moments. I hope you can find gifts in your vacancies, too.
Cat C. is the president of Turtle Hill Events and a graphic designer, too. She's been in the events biz for more than two decades and thinks she might have a tale or two to tell.