An object is just an object; it has no spirit, no memories, no soul. A piece of furniture, for example, is only wood, and nails, and glue. It isn’t alive to feel wistful over days gone by.
So why was I nearly brought down by a little old wooden rocking chair this morning?
It may have just been a case of being caught by the unexpected. I was at a baby shower for my niece, surrounded by family member, laughing and chatting and eating a good brunch. The presents were being unwrapped, and I politely “oohed” and “aahed” over each little Red Sox jersey and box of diapers and soft blanket. My first baby was sitting beside me, enjoying her coffee and conversation. I was happily anticipating the cake, when the pile of presents came to an end, leaving a little brown rocking chair, adorned with a big white bow. I barely looked, until I heard my niece reading the card out loud.
The giver of the gift wrote that this little chair had been in the family for years, and had once held the young Mom and her siblings, followed by my own three children, and then those of the gift giver. It was being passed on once again.
And I looked at the scuffed foot rails, and the scratches in the arms. All at once, I was filled with the memories of my babies in that very chair. My little girl kneeling on the seat, looking over the back in her nightgown, on a warm summer night. My boys, pushing each other faster and faster until they tumbled over in a heap. The little chair, sitting my living room, with a book on the seat. A soft brown bear resting comfortably in the chair in a corner of the baby’s room.
I saw myself reading to them, rocking them, settling them in front of a movie. I remember Katie in the chair in a white bathrobe; Matt rocking in it with a sippy cup in his hand; Tim, sitting in the chair with the nebulizer on his face as he wheezed his way through a long night.
It’s only a piece of furniture. It has no heart, and it feels no sadness. But I had only to touch its smooth, worn surface to once again feel the intense sweetness of the past pulling at me like quicksand.