Visiting hours at the hospital had come to a close, and she was in a coma, so I’d gone to her home to feed her pets, and there it was in the middle of the room.
This is how the chair looked. Barren like the room, preparing like her soul, to be taken to a new home.
Have you ever felt the responsibility of exuding the softness of not one, but two pillows, or of sitting on a piece of furniture for one that felt like a bed for two that you alone could never fill?
It would be several hours before I would see her again, and months before I could sleep without feeling as if cold death had not arrived solely to announce the insufficiency of my warmth.
She always said she wouldn’t be around forever, and in response I always rolled my eyes behind her back.
I took a photo of the chair before I locked the door, knowing I’d never return, and knowing I’d never see her there, or anywhere else again after that day. It means something different to me today than it did back then.
She was practical, and her chair wasn’t for comfort or for show. It was for prayer, and had been set up in the middle of the room, while everything else she’d defined herself by was stripped away in her presence.
Have you ever faced the stillness of sitting in powerlessness, as all you knew was taken away?
My passions are furtive, and sitting still would be my preference under all conditions, with one exception: expressing love.
I looked like a madwoman at her hospital bed, as I picked up each of her cold arms and kissed them from her fingertips to her shoulders. Then I kissed every inch of her face, and wiped my tears from her cheeks before standing back and telling her with all the regret of a fool, that I had to leave.
Not once did she twitch or acknowledge that she’d been touched. Not again would I see her cloudy brown eyes, or hear her voice rattled with confusion.
No one can prepare a child that their parent or caregiver will again become a child, and no one can really prepare us for getting up from the chair and letting go. No one explains that the softness required to let go changes us, and leads us to redecorate our lives, speak different languages, or destroy chairs of righteousness that for a lifetime felt wrong.
She wasn’t ready to go any more than I was ready to leave. When she did leave, she did so at a time when I’d purchased a new chair to nurture a new life. It was a chair of peace, and though it was filled with two bodies, it had been emptied of unspeakable sorrow.
An empty chair can be the gateway to new life, and if we just love for any space of time while we’re here, we in that moment can be the key to someone’s heaven.