The glider-rocker I got before Henry was born is still hanging in there, though the way my girls climb on it, hang off it, and slam it too and fro, I wonder how long it has. I find myself back in this chair again more often come evening because this room is cozy.
In November, we got the insert stove we've been talking about getting since we got married. My fears of this room being intolerably warm weren't warranted, but we are still working out the kinks of getting the warm air circulating effectively. The bedrooms are warm, but I worry about the pipes at the other end of the house in the poorly insulated bathroom. We're in the middle of a cold snap, so I guess this is the test.
The stove means that the toys that I once housed in piles and bins in front of the fireplace had to find a new home. It means there are piles of wood and plastic buckets of sticks and wood chips and other debris. The stove has a blower, so if we're working on maximum efficiency, it's loud. I hated that at first, but I've gotten used to, as we do with most things. It also seems to have driven away the ants that usually start invading our living room in January. I remember sitting nursing Kathleen and with Elizabeth and watching lines of ants moving across the floor.
The stove means more sooty dust on the mantle, so I try to dust it more, and when I do, I stop to look at Henry's pictures there. I think about moving the two big collage frames that are there, though I don't know what I'd put there instead. I have a vision of family photos mounted on the walls by the bottom
of the stairs (if I don't get the built in bookcases I'd really like),
but I'm waiting until we finish peeling wallpaper and paint that wall.
It's been in a state of half prepped for almost six years. That's the
way of projects I guess.
I think too about replacing some of the pictures from those frames, mingling Henry with the rest of our family. My sister put together all our framed pictures—these two big collage frames and dozens of smaller, individual ones—for his funeral, when I knew I wanted pictures but couldn't do it. These pictures are still all over our house. I love having them, but I want Henry to be part of us, not an aside, much the way I have a tiny tree that is only his but also put his ornaments on our full Christmas tree. As I look around, I see the dried filler flowers from one of the arrangements from his funeral and wonder if I'm ready to compost them. I think of the dried white roses on the Henry shelf in my office and contemplate moving them upstairs and mingling them with the dried roses Brian has given me. These things that are tied not to him, but to his death—am I ready to let them go and make some space?