The restaurant was only half full but the table was crowded: five adults and four children gathered around two squares pulled together with plates and food and napkins piled high.

The Man and his brother had gone to get the drinks and found us all settled in our seats upon their return. Only two chairs were left, right next to one another, crowded between our four-year-old on one end and me on the other, our not-so-small son heavy on my lap, stealing a pre-dinner nap.

The brothers hesitated, glancing at one another as if to see which one was going to eat at another restaurant, as no one could possibly expect these two over six-feet-tall men to squeeze into this tiny space, much less eat there with all the elbow action and room a man needs to consume food properly.

They needed space. Technically speaking, the space was there. They could have sat next to each other. They could have made it work. But there would have been no room for a dropped fork under the table or simultaneous bites, not to mention conversation.

There would have been no room to breathe.

I need room to breathe, too. I need space in my days and weeks and months to think and mull and ponder. Even as I have cut back on appointments and outings and commitments, I still find myself awake past my bedtime to simply soak in the quiet. My soul needs space. And it doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t come without a price and it doesn’t come on its own.

I have to make it come. Because life is messy and fluid and maddeningly unpredictable.

That is why I have to plan for space. Because when the fork drops, I want the opportunity to take my time, stoop down in my seat, take all the room I need and pick it up proper without harming the people around me or bumping my head on the bottom of the table.