Veteran’s Beach in Mattituck, New York. My father used to eat breakfast on this bench with my mother on warm spring and fall mornings.

On April 14, 2020, COVID killed my father. He wasn’t very old and he was healthy. Needless to say, his death surprised and devastated the entire family. I still haven’t gotten over it. I don’t think I ever will. Over the summer, I started taking pictures of empty benches. For me they came to represent all the conversations I would never again have with my father. But those conversations weren’t abstract — they were real. I still sometimes catch myself reaching for the phone wanting to share with him good news or to ask for advice. I’ll never hear his voice again, but I can’t stop myself from wanting to talk with him, and so I started writing down the conversations I wish could have. That’s how my Empty Bench series came to be.

However, I am not the only one grieving, the only one dreaming about conversations that will never take place. To date, 500,000 Americans have died from COVID. Two and a half million people worldwide have been killed. There are more empty benches and empty chairs than I would ever care to count. Words are burning inside of us because the people we wish to share them with can’t respond.

What are your Empty Bench stories? Visit our submissions page and give voice to the conversations you want to have with those who have crossed over to the other side.

For more about me and my COVID experience visit: https://jaegerwrites13.wordpress.com.

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