It was the brightest cherry pink, and certainly richer than the kind of strawberry butter that melts into a fresh-out-of-the oven oatmeal muffin. I saw it on a resale site that I had been perusing (for maybe the second time ever) as I lay on Aaron’s bed, waiting for the ebb and flow of rhythmic breaths to tell me that my busy little sprite was finally at rest for the night or, more likely, for the next few hours. I thought of the chair, and how I really had nowhere to put such a thing; a find such as this definitely needed a spot of honor. I messaged the owner. I stopped to see the chair. I thought about it. I didn’t know if I should commit. A couple days later, I went to collect it. Greeting me at the open door was a youngish man. He appeared to be wearing black dress clothing under his red velvet robe which was tied quite tightly around his slim waist. “The chair?” he queried as I turned to see a darling boy, perhaps three years old, clad in only a t-shirt and sitting with his bare bottom planted on my precious chair. The mother scooped up the boy; I handed her a fifty dollar bill. The man offered, robe and all, to help me to the car. Pleased that I had gone through with my purchase, I thanked the curious fellow and waved as I drove away, trying not to process the unsettling details.
It’s hard to know if I am doing the right thing in a given moment. It’s hard to feel secure in my decisions. I have always been like this. So many times I have called my mom (who lives a thousand miles away) to ask her if she thinks the cake I am making is done, or if my pot roast has cooked long enough, or if the sour cream is still good. How would she know? She lives across the country, but I still turn to her for the comfort I need to know that everything is going to be alright. I will go back in the house, once we are all packed in the car and ready to go, to be absolutely certain that the stove has been turned off. Just to be sure. Because once the move is made, there is no going back to where we were before.
I am aware that not everyone will like the chair. Some might even find it very unappealing. I might tell those people about the boy.
I need my wise friend Robyn so much more than she even knows. The tiny little details, the ones that are made by others in their dreams, weigh on my mind late at night and steal away my sleep. I ask what she thinks, and she just assures me that what I am doing is okay, that it is all going to unfold. Just like my mom, she sends comfort in the quiet hours when the shadows are restless. She helps me know that I am doing the right thing, not because she has the answer, but because she knows me, and she knows I need to hear that she will support me in this craziness. And she does. We all need those people. We need people to believe in us.
Robyn will love the chair.
It’s hard to decide where to go for dinner when we have a night out…Thai Pavillion? Hillside? Rositas? When the caseworker from the State of Illinois calls to ask if we would consider taking the baby sibling of our little son, that decision came easily, without a doubt, to me, at least. That was God, bigger than life, who, on occasion, makes His call quite clear. I wonder why I can be so tentative with the little decisions (curry or chicken pot pie?) yet unwavering with those of the life-altering variety. I think it’s because those are not up to me.
There was nowhere to put the chair; not yet. So it sat for a couple days, in the middle of the kitchen, soaking up the presence of our comings and goings, releasing the aura of the red robe/naked bottom family. In a few days’ time, the chair was a glowing presence and a companion to our Peace lily, in a corner by the bookshelf in the living room. Nobody really knows about the past life of this chair; nobody knows how many times the little boy parked himself, without underwear, on this little pink piece of heaven.
It is not really like this with people, at least I don’t think so. We have had many children come through our doors with stories much more intense and unbelievable; little bits and pieces, good, bad, unsettling, and likely including more than red velvet robes and the absence of underwear. They can’t forget. We can’t let them forget, lest they lose part of their true selves. I still have my “kitty pillow.” Nothing about it has resembled a kitty for at least four decades. It is tucked away in the corner of my closet and, every so often when I dig for one sweater or another, I am reminded of the tornado, of the scary noises outside the camper, or of falling asleep on long car rides, and of how I was comforted by my (once bright pink) kitty pillow. And I am grateful, as I approach middle age, that I have my mom, and that I have jewels of friends like Robyn. They will sit with me on my pink chair, and they will help me test my cake. They will offer me the strength to know that what I am doing is okay. They know what has come before, but still they are there when I need them. I think that may be because right now, this moment, is what matters the most.
And I am so happy that I decided to get the chair.