The past two Januarys I've sat in this chair and looked about and noticed the changes around me an within me. Here I sit again in my glider rocker in my living room.
I remember coming home from visiting my friend Kate in New York in 2007. I got off the train, jumped in my car and headed for a baby store that claimed to have a good selection of chairs because I wanted to try out the chair before I bought it. Then I made a trip to visit my sister to check out another store. This chair is the last one I would have picked from looking at it, but after back and forth back and forth sitting, I decided this was the one that fit me and felt the best. I imagined the chair in the nursery, but after Henry came home on oxygen we moved it to the living room and here it has stayed.
Toys—stuffed animals, puppets, puzzles, dolls, stroller, shopping cart, blocks, instruments . . . —have taken over much of this room and the next. I see Kathleen's coloring table in the next room, the school bus parked under the dining room table, the corner of the basket of play food that sits next to her kitchen set. Two milk crates and an old CD rack are filled to over flowing with books. This is clearly a house where children live.
Henry's pictures still sit on the mantle and above the TV and on the bookcase on the other side of the room. His memory lamp is still on the bookcase. I still light it every night and turn it off each morning.
There is one picture of Kathleen, one of us as a family, none yet framed of Elizabeth. There are also three pictures of Brian and me—us on top of a mountain, in front of a waterfall, on our wedding day—reminders of who we once were and things we loved to do. These are good reminders.
This year the swing is back next to my chair, though it hasn't gotten a lot of use yet. So far Elizabeth does not seem as enamored with it as Henry and Kathleen did. Right now she's lying in it, though I never turned it on, finally asleep after fussing with gas for a long time this evening. I sit with a toddler sleeping upstairs and an almost one month old asleep next to me. I sit, though I should sleep too.
I look at the fireplace, where the stockings still hang. They were filled this year with bubbles, books, socks, crayons, markers, and a regifted stuffed dog for Elizabeth. I had fun collecting these things and watching Kathleen pull them out. I look at December still with trepidation but with a sense that I may slowly find my way, feel the joy and the excitement that I want my girls to have.
I sit in this chair a lot again usually to feed the baby. Late at night, early morning, or during nap time, I sit along with Elizabeth. I sing her the song that is just for her. I trace her tiny ear, smile at the long hair that spikes on top of her head, feel the warmth of her body that fits perfectly across my belly right now. Or I sit with her and read a bit as she eats. The rest of the time, Kathleen, who rarely wants to sit with me any more often decides she must be in my lap if Elizabeth is. So we sit a big girl on one leg, a tiny one on the other, or I convince Kathleen to sit on the ottoman while I read her a book. Or I'm up out of the chair.
I remember the first January of sitting in this chair, numb, feeling like I didn't really belong in this much emptier room. Now it feels like home again.