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"There's a Seat Always For you, Dad"

This time of the year (from April to July 17th) will now always be marked as perhaps the most difficult time for our family. With dad's birthday, my parent's wedding anniversary, Memorial Day weekend, the discovery of his illness, Father's Day, up to the day he passed away, it will continually be a grave reminder of the father and husband we once interacted with on earth.

For some time now I've been thinking a lot on the whole notion of one's presence and the ability to influence others. I'm still reflecting on this concept so forgive me if it isn't as clear as I hoped it to be. But I will do my best to communicate this as best as I can now.

Let me first create an analogy in hopes that it will make sense as it pertains to my father. There was a time when I was in a significant relationship. She was someone I cared for very much. When we first met, our love was simple, fun, and exciting. And yet over time, our love grew and matured into something far greater. We created a history together. We shared many activities together. Some were small; others quite big. I loved being with this person and I enjoyed her friendship very much.

There was also a time when we had to be apart from each other because of our studies, and I remember the feeling I felt when we were separated. I thought of her often, prayed for her, wrote to her as much as I could, and thought of creative ways to express that love even while we were in two, separate states. As I see it now, her absence had a certain effect on me. Why? Because her life was a big part of mine. Her life wasn't something I added on to my daily chores. She lived in my heart and so whenever we were apart, I felt her absence in a very real way.

As I've thought much about that relationship, I began to make the connection with my father. For thirty-three years, my father had an even greater impact on me. From the moment I was born, he was there with mother. We had a very unique history that developed all those years. When I went off to boarding schools and then to college, slowly I began to recognize how his presence was still affecting my life. Physically he wasn't with me when I was alone, in class, or out of state, yet he was in my heart. That's why my return home for the holidays was extra special. It was that physical rejoining which made all the difference.

Now I see and feel my father's absence even greater. Why? Because his presence is still within me. And although he went on to be with the Lord, his presence is in my heart. Just as I missed my friend and was concerned about her well-being - particularly when we were apart from one another, I feel the same way with my father. I do believe he is in good hands, yet I still think of him, wondering how he's doing and wishing he were home. Because of this, there will always be that yearning for his return.

I can't say that my presence causes others to feel the same way as I do about my father's presence. I can only speak as one who sees the significance of his presence within my life. It certainly challenges me to consider what affect I will have on others before I leave this earth. Will someone ever have that same feeling when I'm gone, that same feeling I now have about my father? I say this not because I'm of such worth. I don't deserve such attention. However, I mention this because as I've shared above, my father's presence reminded me of his love for me. Even when he didn't articulate his feelings, his actions always reminded me that I was his son, and that he cared so much about me. That's exactly why I pray my life will somehow remind someone else of how special they are. I'm not quite certain of the days I have left, but I can question my ability and evaluate how well I impact others.

I chose the photo (above) of the empty chair because although it's evident that no one is sitting in it, it's a reminder to me that although I don't see my father physically anymore, his presence is still alive and well and deep within my heart.

- Justin Agoglia (eldest son of Joseph Agoglia)