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Part of the Furniture, Part of the Family

by Loretto Leary

It had been a part of our lives from the day we moved in together to the day we had to let it go. A three seated, convertible couch with blue and white stripes, simple and elegant, at least I thought so. It lived in two apartments and one home. The couch and the television were the first two pieces of furniture we ever bought. 

In its early days, it was fashionable. The cushions had neat edges and were perfectly square. Everything smelled new and looked new. But as we grew accustomed to it, it became a place to flop, with our shoes still on, after work. It became a sometimes bed for our guests or us. The white stripes didn’t look so white after a year, and the edges didn’t look so neat sometime after that. It was our second bedroom in our first one-bedroom apartment. Then we moved to a two-bedroom, and it became our third bedroom.

It was the couch I sat on to bottle-feed our newborn, day and night. As the changing table became too small, it became the changing table instead. When our son crawled, he began pulling himself to standing by grabbing the fabric of it and pulling hard. It was a place to play peek-a-boo, hide and seek, or just sit and play the guitar and sing Baby Beluga to him.

Then we moved to our house, and the couch, with stripes, not so bright, edges not so neat, and fabric not so new moved with us too, now our fourth bedroom in a three-bedroom house.

It was still a bed and a changing table but was soon to become a fortress with cushions for walls, a blanket for a roof and a navy blue carpeted floor. “What happened to my fort?” our son would cry every morning. To him, the couch was a magical thing that transitioned from the fort to couch every night. It was a gymnasium used by a 2-year-old who liked to bounce, bounce, bounce and then somersault into a pit of cushions and pillows, gathers his dizzy head together, and then do it all over again.

That couch was a place for a two-year-old and his pals to sit, play, fight, and snack. Bites were given to food, and each other as teeth came in and the urge to sink them into something or someone became so strong our son, and his friends could not resist. Toys were dragged from another’s hands; tears were shed, and scoldings and reprimands were given on that couch. Feet that barely reached the edge of the cushion would eventually reach the floor. A helping hand to climb up on the couch would no longer be needed.

My son’s first belly laugh was from that couch as he watched Wallace wallop Gromit with a shovelful of soapy suds. When diapers were no longer needed, those belly laughs caused loss of bladder control, cushions were sprayed with Fabreeze, turned over and once again looked new, until the next belly laugh.

It was the couch we sat on as we took pictures of our son in his first Halloween costume. It was the couch I sat on and wondered if this were the day my mother and niece would die. It was the couch I sat on and cried when they both did. It was the couch I sat on to congratulate sisters on their engagements, commiserate brothers and sisters-in-law on break-ups, wish a happy birthday, congratulate on pregnancies and births and sometimes just sit and think about being home. I already was home.

Our poor couch became the crime scene of potty training accidents, juice spills, food mishaps, throw-up, days when we cuddled our son because he was sick, days when we lit a fire and just unfolded the bed and watched television on snowy weekends. We rang in the New Years for ten years sitting on that crummy couch. We cried at losing family members, laughed at seeing our son play with his toys, read stories, sang songs; we watched life change before us sitting on that couch. We talked about getting rid of it because it just plain stunk, it looked like we salvaged it from a junkyard, all misshapen and stained, but we just couldn’t part with it.

One morning, in October of 2005, we woke up to heavy rain. It rained for ten days straight. When it stopped raining, our house flooded. We salvaged what we could, the television, some toys, but the carpet and the couch had to go.

It sat in our driveway, the wet stain creeping up along the fabric; changing the color and making it look grey and sad. It was dirty, battered, broken, out of shape, smelly, and beautiful beyond belief. Our son sat on it, his feet now easily reaching the tarmac. “It’s still good,” he said, “It will dry out in the sun. We can’t just throw it out!” Letting go is always hard.

Often the things that look shiny and bright when they are new give us the most joy when we look back on them as old things that have been part of our lives and given us fond memories, this couch was one of those things. It was like a person really, the older it got, the crankier and meaner it looked, but it was still soft and comfortable to be with because it saw us through so many joyful and challenging times.

The couch was literally, part of the family, and though it has been seven years now since it sat in our driveway that unforgiving cold and damp October day in 2005, we still talk about that couch as if it were a person who was a significant part of our lives. And in a way, it was.

About the Author

Loretto's published work can be found in Australia's Irish Scene, and Irish Central, New Square Literary Magazine and The MacGuffin. She has self-published two novels and two novellas. Her third novel Tarmac Cowboy is currently being submitted to agents. Loretto’s follow-up novel to The Foundling, Stained Glass, will be completed in 2020. 

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