If you haven't spent much time around the Future PharmD household, you may not know about my recliner. When I was approaching 18 I was getting ready for a fundraiser at my family's place of worship, where the youth would get people to sponsor them to rock all night in rocking chairs. For some reason (probably that I didn't have a place to sit in the family living room anymore after the demise of the couch) I decided that what I really wanted was a reclining rocking chair of my own. I have no idea why anyone took this request seriously (I'm not entirely sure that I took it seriously) but I eventually was drafted to go shopping for it, and a purple-ish burgundy one was selected. It was delivered for the rock-a-thon (gasp the weekend before my birthday!), and a great time was had by all staying up all night watching movies and pretending we were continuously rocking.
It probably would never have been a big thing in my life if it weren't one of two times I spent with a friend before he killed himself. Just some piece of furniture that I could claim as mine when I moved out (as soon as humanly possible was the plan).
The entire rock-a-thon, he (well, let's give him a name. How's Joe?) wanted to borrow my rocking chair, to try it out. Joe had never been what I'd call a stable guy and at just 17, he was a friend, yes, but not a close one. He'd always acted kind of strangely, and I figured it was because he got knocked around at home and it broke him somehow (and based on the hand-shaped bruises I noticed more than once, this was a reasonable guess). Being also 17 and pretty focused on things besides my platonic friends, I didn't think it was a big deal that I knew he got hurt at home (everyone knew he got teased constantly at school, by teachers and students alike) and I didn't mention it to anyone else.
I'd like to say that I let him borrow my chair, but I don't know that I did. I was probably selfish and didn't let him use it. I haven't asked anyone else who was there about it, and I don't think I ever will, because I'd hate to know for sure that I was mean to him that second-to-last time we were together.
The last time he and I were in the same place, at the same time, was a McDonalds in some small town after a youth retreat weekend with our youth group, maybe 3 weeks after the recliner incident and 2 before his death. The weekend had been about addressing addiction in our lives. We were sitting with some friends from somewhere else, enjoying a few last minutes of freedom from our parents before the drive home and back to life as normal. The toy in my Happy Meal (or his? or someone else's?) was a green goblin number, and the head popped off via a trigger on the back. I have this image of him sort of strangling the thing, until the head popped off and it got lost in the shuffle of the restaurant. Joe looked, or attempted to look like he was looking, and I attempted to be upset by the lost part of a toy, but I was really upset by the look in his eyes. It was strange and scary and I didn't know what to make of it.
Then when he hung himself, I understood and it hurt.
I didn't sit in that recliner for at least a year, maybe almost 2. I hauled it around when I moved twice, and then I stacked things on it. It wasn't until about 2 years after his death that I realized what I'd been doing. It was his chair. He'd been with me all along, hanging around that chair.
Since I started pharmacy school, I sit in that chair every day and study. Sometimes I migrate around the house studying, but that recliner has been my desk chair, my way to stay awake late at night. I fed my baby girl in this chair. I knew for sure I'd lost a long-awaited baby in this chair. Hey, I'm writing this blog post from my chair.
And within the week it is going away. After years and years, it's worn out. It's starting to be uncomfortable and stabby in places. Its replacement is ordered and will be here soon.
I'm trying not to be too emotional about letting it go. It's a chair. Really. But it's complicated too because it's got some mileage. It's probably (ok, certainly) time to let go of the chair, and to let go of the guilt of all of that too. Yes, I could have told someone, and maybe they would have believed me, but maybe it would have changed nothing. Life happens whether I like it or not, and it isn't my job to obsess about decisions I made wrongly once upon a time. It's my job to live today to its fullest (and get the lawn mowed for pete's sake). As the musical RENT puts it, "No day but today."
But honestly, I'll still miss my chair when it leaves. It's a dear old friend after all these years.