Empty spaces – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Empty spaces

Empty spaces

When I was 15, I sang the Hallelujah Chorus.

I practised for months, with the choir on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays and in private on all the other days. I sang until I had the notes just exactly right and did the final, enormous dress rehearsal. I said to my parents, “This is going to be amazing!” and they said, “We can’t wait to see it.”

I got up and put on my blue robes and went to a hall on the other side of town. I stood in the second row and took a deep breath and looked for my family in the audience. My boyfriend was there, waving at me. And my dad was there, waving at me. And next to him there was an empty space that didn’t wave to me, where my mum should have been. So I sang to my boyfriend and my dad and the empty space.

Fifteen years ago my mum didn’t make it to the performance I was most proud of.

For ten years I held it against her.

Tomorrow my own daughter has her first performance with her choir. She has her embroidered t-shirt and her sheet music and her yellow ribbon. She says to me, “This is going to be amazing!” and I say, “I can’t wait to see it.”

It’s in a hall on the other side of town. We have six tickets.

I’m so afraid that my space will be empty.

  • ali

    May 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm Reply

    Please go Anna.
    I know you can do it.

  • Michelle Holland

    May 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm Reply

    You are the best mum ever x

  • Kelly Exeter

    May 10, 2013 at 11:04 pm Reply

    Sometimes I wish life were simpler. Don’t you?


  • Kaz

    May 11, 2013 at 9:09 am Reply

    Brought home to me about how unpredictable life is and how little control we have of our lives. Also how the memory of the absence of a parent from those important events in our lives(for whatever reason) stays with us forever. Your story didn’t allude to any particular reason for the empty seat so the reader can try their own scenarios to explain the empty pkace

  • karen @ the rhythm method

    May 12, 2013 at 9:12 am Reply

    Daughters find empty spaces even when there aren’t any. Do what you can Anna, nobody could deny that you care. (Love your writing). x

  • Anna

    May 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Take it step by step and try not to overthink it (easier said than done right?!)

    You know it will mean the world to her for you to be there and know the hurt she will feel if your not because you’ve been there yourself.

    However, if you’re not there don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t mean you’re not a great Mum and don’t love her. She knows the same thing – even if she might be upset with you for awhile.

    Sending you positive thoughts!

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      May 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm Reply

      Thanks Anna. I didn’t make it, but I do feel like I did as much as I could. I planned a special private screening with just the two of us and ice-cream, so we will do that and I hope she’ll at least know how much I wanted to be there.

      And next time I hope I’ll get even closer. And then closer still. And so on until I am in the audience again.


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