This is my rocking chair. It was my rocking chair with Noah. I remember shopping for it in Babies ‘R Us like it was yesterday. It was the softest and the widest and my 9 months pregnant body fit in it. Sold. My head was filled with the first time mom images. Perfect breast feeding sessions and storytimes and cuddling and Mary Cassatt-like moments. There is nothing like being a first time mom. The excitement and non-stop reading like it was a test you would be given on your due date. The advice and knowing smiles from the pros. The sisterhood that comes to the rescue if you say the word. Because we all know what it’s really like. The Good, The Great, and The Ugly.
I kept my rocking chair after Noah died. I’m not sure why. After all, we even got rid of our couch because that was too hard to look at-let alone sit on- without him. The rocking chair came with us to our next childless apartment. It stayed in the corner in the front sunroom across from where Noah’s guinea pigs played in their cage. They didn’t seem to know he was gone. There was usually one or both of our cats curled up in the seat, almost like place savers for me. They made my rocking chair look alive and loved instead of gloomy and deserted. Cats are good like that. I never sat in it. Not once. It was a monument to what we didn’t have.
About five years ago, my friend Ina wrote me one of many letters saying something that hit me hard. She herself lost her almost five year old son, Luca, in an accident. It’s been about twenty years now I believe. She has three other children and watching them grow is bittersweet. That part I understand. Watching them get to milestones Luca and Noah never will. Ina wrote back in my early days of loss of “mourning for the little children her growing children now were becoming.” I wasn’t able to really understand back then. I was still so numb and hopeless and simply sad. At least, I thought, you have other children. At that point we weren’t sure it would happen for us again.
But tonight I sat in the rocking chair while Miriam sang herself to sleep in her bed. The thirteen songs of The Trolls soundtrack. She was still wide awake by song number nine so she got out of bed and came to sit in my lap. We cuddled and held hands. I tried to synch our breathing patterns just like when she was a baby. I stroked her hair and touched her lightly behind her ears. “Pet me, Mommy!” she says.
I stared down at the top of her head and thought about what Ina had said in her letter years ago. I was now in the stage of mourning her littleness. I am hanging onto every bit of baby Miriam I can. She will grow on her own just fine. She doesn’t need me to push her any faster. And maybe it’s a little selfish, but I’m never going to turn down one of these nights in this rocking chair. This rocking chair has been through the ringer. I’m so glad it’s stayed strong. Because the payoff is beyond belief.