As I sit in my chair now, my view has changed again. The room itself is different. The pictures of Henry are still on the mantle and on top of the TV. His memory lamp and picture still sit on the bookcase next to dried flowers from one of the arrangements from his funeral.
But the walls are no longer bare. Paintings and the shelves we took down to paint the room before Henry was born are finally back up. The table of sympathy cards and thank you notes in that sat next to my chair in 2007, made way in 2008 for the baby swing. Now that corner is home to a giant basket of stuffed animals and a milk crate full of board books. The homey braided rug made way for a cushy Oriental, and the golden tones pick up the light of the morning sun. The coffee table is gone (one less thing to climb or bump a head on), more room to play. Toys of all types fill in the perimeter of the room.
My chair sits in the living room where it has been since we brought Henry home the first time. These days it sits, but I don't sit in it much. I'm on the floor playing with Kathleen or we are out visiting people or running errands or having a snack together in the kitchen, and if she is asleep, I'm most likely sitting at my desk trying to get a little work done.
My surroundings have changed. The rhythm of my day has changed, too. Mostly I am asleep in those quiet pre-dawn hours Kathleen and I used to share; rarely do I see the darkness turn gray and then rose and then bright yellow as day begins in earnest. Kathleen still sits with me when she is not feeling well and sometimes when she is tired, but mostly she is busy: pulling books off shelves, testing her balance, trying to climb onto the ottoman, finding the Cheerios she dropped earlier, emptying and filling bins of toys . . .
Much has changed in a year.
But when I have a chance to sit again, this remains: I still look at the pictures of Henry, now two years gone, and I still struggle to believe, to comprehend that I had a baby boy, that I sat in this chair and rocked him, that he is gone, gone, never to be held, never to be rocked again. I look around at all the signs of my girl, who I held so new and so precious last January; she is still with me, now chubby cheeks and chunky thighs and giddy giggles.
I sit in this chair and remember, remember sitting with both my babies, rocking them, feeding them, singing to them.
I sit in this chair, one baby tucked into bed, the other tucked into my heart.
I sit, as I did last year, with the grief and the gratitude, the ache and the awe.