I’ve searched for the perfect couch for a large portion of my adult life. I maintain a steady presence on the internet marketplaces and frequent the thrift shops scattered across the three states we travel the most. My couch karma is pathetic. Once, I broke my vow to only buy used items and bought a new one. That didn’t work out either.
Over the years, God has cheerfully sat on each of them except for the small sectional coated with multiple layers of nearly invisible cat hair. That one didn’t even make it into the living room. Too bad. It would have matched the nostalgic recliner I’m usually sitting in this time of day. If any cat people are interested, the sectional is piled in the barn. Blue geometric design. Can’t miss it.
“You’re funny,” God says, lowering himself into the sagging cushions of my most recent attempt.
“I know,” I reply, proud but sad. My mom would have turned eighty-nine today. I didn’t engage in any “Happy Birthday in Heaven” posts, but I’ve sent my regards to wherever the essence of mothers goes.
Generally, my mom did not like secondhand furniture, but she loved this little recliner that last year because she could put the footrest up and down on her own. Limits and needs humiliated her. She would have starved rather than ask someone to cut up her meat. I can relate.
It is one of life’s ironies that if we live long enough, we come to understand the disappointments, fears, and irritating quirks of our elders from the inside out.
“No, no. That’s not irony,” God says. “That’s mercy.”
“I don’t think so,” I say. “It feels vindictive. It makes me wish I’d been nicer and tried harder to understand.”
“No amount of niceness takes mortality away. You were nice enough.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“Trust me,” God says, “You were nice enough.” Then he adds, “Say, I didn’t sleep well last night. Mind if I take a little rest?”
He yawns, snaps the wobbly footrest up, settles back, and is soon snoring peacefully. I watch his chest rise and fall while George Winston plays melancholy piano in the background. Such short lives. Such very short lives.
I guess maybe it is mercy, I think. Better to understand later than never. A rush of adoration washes over me. I lower my own footrest quietly to tuck a turquoise blanket around the vast arthritic feet of my friend, the patient creator, the weary one, snoozing on my latest bad couch.