It’s Sunday morning and I’m on my way to work. It’s ten to seven so I’m not going to be early but I won’t be late, either. I back out of my driveway into the moonlit street, chuck my car into gear and we’re off and up the hill. Then I see it. A couch on the nature strip.
‘It’s just a couch. Be cool.’
In the weeks before my sister died we were looking for a couch for her. Something second hand because Libby wouldn’t have wanted us to spend a lot of money and well, we didn’t have much. Nature strips are often good spots for good couches, so in my travels I kept a look out. Erin, my other sister, did her looking on ebay, she’d send me photos of hilarious, fashion-victim couches. The night Libby died Erin won her bid on a pair of couches.
Of course in the months after Libby’s death I’d see couches on nature strips everywhere. Leather, tartan, three-seater, two-seater, chaise. Couches were in my consciousness, like when you’re buying a new car and you keep seeing the make and model you want, or when you’re pregnant and the world is full of pregnant women.
Enter Sunday’s couch.
I went to work but I couldn’t shake that bloody couch. There are no ‘rules’ for grief. Sorrow does what it wants. And sorrow will turn up when you’re operating a coffee machine, making change, taking orders. Sorrow has a mind of its own. It’s an amorphous shape-shifting thing.
‘Come on, it was just a couch. There will be others.’
The thing is, there have been others and there will be more. Couches on nature strips, Libby’s new couches, installed, but she won’t be sitting on them. Libby’s old couches, in the carport, they awaited removal for months. We got a new couch. A massive L-shaped thing it weighed a tonne and getting up our stairs was an operation for another blog post. There is a couch in every home and I can’t cry every time.
Five days it took to let go of the couch at the top of my hill. Almost a week of talking myself out of it, talking myself down, because: I’ve got the boys to organise, and work to get to, I’m meant to be writing, I’ve got a life. I stayed in bed for most of the week.
Grief is a learning experience like no other. You’re never more alive than when you’re heart is breaking, I’m alive and I’m paying attention. I think about Libby, but it’s risky. Think too long and my throat hurts. Look at her photo more than three times and I can no longer smile at the face smiling back at me.
I love her.
I miss her.
I fucken miss you, Libby! I stamp my foot and cry.
That couch gave me pain. But it’s a pain I think I want. I’d love to have more control over it, key into sorrow when there’s time and space, like in the shower, the shower is good for tears and an early morning cry can be what the body wants. I could spare myself the sudden tears of hearing Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ and I could pass a couch on a nature strip without digging in. But you don’t get to love without pain and I suppose that’s where the beauty is.
Grief is a beautiful monster.
these are on our nature strip. way less confrontational.