Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

The Chair

Date: 
Monday, January 19, 2015
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

Six months after Aric died, I moved. It wasn’t a move of choice, but of necessity. I could no longer afford to stay in the apartment we had lived in together, and so just six months into this widowed life—despite all the adages about waiting a year before making any big decisions—I moved. Going through Aric’s things to prepare for that move was difficult. Figuring out what to keep and what to let go of was excruciating. But, as I went through all of that stuff (and believe me, that man had a ton of stuff), there was one item that was never in question: Aric’s chair.

Years before he died, Aric stopped sleeping in the bed. He suffered from debilitating chronic pain, and he could not lie flat on a bed for longer than a few minutes. So, he began sleeping in a La-Z-Boy chair—and, for those last several years, he basically lived in that chair. Just months before he died, he got a new La-Z-Boy chair, a custom order. Large and overstuffed, a giant boxy square with dark velvety fabric that was soft to sleep on; he loved that chair. It was one ugly chair, but, I loved that he loved it.

When Aric died, that empty chair was a constant reminder of his absence. I could barely stand to look at it, and I could not sit in it. During the first few months, upon my therapist’s suggestion, I placed a stuffed animal in the chair—an effort to prevent its emptiness from boring an ever-growing hole in my heart. And, since I often worked from home, with my workstation in the living room, I eventually had to use shoji screens to build a wall between myself and the empty chair so that it would not distract me as I worked.

And, yet, as much as the chair tormented me, there was no way I could let it go. Most of my memories of Aric in that space were of him in one of his chairs. It gave him comfort; it was his home base. So, when I moved from the South Loop to North Center, the La-Z-Boy moved from the South Loop to North Center as well. In new surroundings, the emptiness of the chair became more bearable, but its presence felt even more overbearing. While I began gaining a bit of comfort from sitting in the chair, and began to use it more regularly, it remained an awkward presence in my new apartment, never quite fitting in.

Over the past two years I’ve slowly been working my way through the objects in my home. Selecting the things of Aric’s that are most important to me to display, and donating, gifting or storing the rest. After fifteen years of developing “our” aesthetic, it has taken me a while to find my own aesthetic, my own sense of space, design my own home. But, I am making progress. And what I am starting to come to terms with is that this chair does not fit. It doesn’t fit the physical space of the apartment. It doesn’t fit the aesthetic of my new home. It doesn’t fit the smaller frame of my body. I am not sure I need it or want it any longer. But what I can’t figure out is how I’m ever going to let it go.

Comments

Jeannine, In one form or other you will never let it go and you don't have to. However, one day, I think you will find a new home for it. Someone who needs it may find themselves in it finding the comfort that Aric once found.

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