The Empty Jar


My bobba (grandma) would have been 93 this week.

She left us on a sunny, yet brisk autumn day towards the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester. I was biking on the riverbank in Richmond when my mom called. I will never forget the aggressiveness of my phone’s vibration, or that bike ride. My Bobba passed away in the comfort of her home, in bed, surrounded by our immediate family. Till this day her home has helped me grieve. 

My Bobba’s home is a sanctuary of memorabilia collected over decades. It serves as an art gallery of collectible pieces from around the globe. Her closets are filled with years of tailored pieces that have been worn to various events—if only they could speak. 

There is one room in my Bobba’s house that I cherish the most, her pantry. Not because I have an obsession with food (though I do), but because it reminds me of all the memories I have of her. Every time I visited my Bobba’s house she had the pantry stocked with all of the treats imaginable. The most iconic candy was the miniature packets of Chiclet gum. 

The clear plastic containers that were once filled with these sweet treats are now left empty. The emptiness of these containers reminds me of her passing, but they also symbolize the way I feel about not having her in my life—empty. 

Time and time again I’ve confronted the emptiness of these containers and my feelings towards death. It has helped me realize that all I have left are the memories of my Bobba. The pantry might seem empty now, but it’s still a place filled with love and the dedication she had to making us (her grandchildren) happy every time we came over. After her death I was like the empty containers in her pantry. But now I realize that I am no longer empty because I am fuelled by our memories. These containers brought me to a place where I no longer feel unfilled, but instead filled with all the times we shared together.  

Megan Kwan