When I bought the recliner chairs for both my parents last year, I didn’t expect to be staring at two empty chairs a year later. They both loved the comfort of recliners and made sure their designated seats were not taken by anybody else other than each other. Even then, Mommy and Daddy rarely shared recliners because they had very different ideas of watching television and the use of a recliner. Whereas Daddy would take cat naps on his, preferring the comfort of a bed for sleep, Mommy battled excruciating sciatic pain around her hips and needed the angled position of the recliner to ease the pain. She would often fall asleep in front of the television, buried in several pillows and snuggling under a sheet or shawl.
Now that they are both gone, I have the two recliners to grieve with me. The emptiness of these chairs makes their absence so much more pronounced and my sorrow so much deeper. When Daddy passed away last month, his chair moved along with Mommy, and she refused to part with it, understandably so. I could hardly believe it when some unkind soul out there asked for the chair barely a day after Daddy died. Mommy adamantly hung on to his chair, and adopted it as her own after a few days, a feeble attempt to still feel her husband’s warmth on her body. I find myself doing the same thing now that Mommy is no longer with me. I sit in her chair hoping against hope that if I fall asleep in it and close my eyes I will feel her embrace or the tender hands on my head massaging my aches away. All I have left are the memories and the silence. And the anger – that while Mommy was struggling for life on her hospital bed there were even more unkind souls who asked for the chairs.
I am not ready to part with them just yet. In my heart and mind I know they are just material things that really don’t link me to the souls of my parents. But they are symbols of two people who filled my life, who gave me life, and taught me so much. These are chairs that remind me how short life can be, and how beautiful love can be if you allow it to take over your life.
These empty chairs stare at me in the darkness, asking me where their owners have gone. They are not my chairs, and never will be because in my mind they will forever be Mommy and Daddy’s chairs.