I have a five piece corner sofa in leather. It’s been a great piece of furniture, and has welcomed the bottoms of all sorts of people. Every Monday for several years there would be a handful of teenagers from a local church, bouncing, lounging, mucking about, cosying on it. Then there were the grandchildren who soon realised that it was big enough for somersaults, and there were often pals sitting demurely with coffee (until the dogs leapt up and the coffee was sent flying). It’s been great. My granddaughters took turns to sleep on it when they came to stay and I slept on it for 3 months when a friend was in my bed, recuperating after an operation. In turn it has been a sofa, a bed and a trampoline and it’s as good now as the day it was bought.
A few weeks ago, feeling a bit sub-par one afternoon, I stretched out on it and it was lovely… until I tried to get up. It’s so soft and so low and billowy that I couldn’t budge. The years have been kinder to the sofa than they have to me and my elbows sank into the upholstery, my knees lacked the oomph to propel me upwards …. the more I tried the more stuck I became… there was nothing to hold on to to gain purchase…. my shoulders are shot having both been broken years ago and I was a beetle on my back with my legs waving in the air. When the dogs tried to help they just made everything even funnier and messier. I heaved and grunted and swore and laughed and gasped for air, swatting the dogs away. If there had been someone with me we could have made a small fortune posting a video online. Eventually I gave up trying and toppled slowly off onto the floor, where I lay helpless and giggling, staring up at the ceiling with dogs sticking their faces into mine, tails wagging, until I could right myself onto all fours and stagger upwards.
Today I pulled the five parts of the sofa apart so that it could go to its new owner and I knew there would be a few things stuck between the units, maybe a tissue or a pen, a note… you know, a few things. Here we go: 11 ice lolly sticks (that’s granddaughters for you), two biros, seven hair bobbles (deffo not me) an earring, a bracelet, two old £1coins, a yoghurt lid, a squeaky toy, a key ring, an SIM card, a sock and a battery. And enough Shitzu wool to knit another two dogs and enough sand to fill a small bucket.
Shameful! Made me think of that verse ‘… there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.’
This is what seems odd – I can tell you all about the mess but I’m very glad that I was the only one to see it! What’s the difference? Why is it ok to tell you about it now, and to gleefully list the detritus, when it would have been mortifying for you to see it for yourselves?
I dunno. Funny, us humans, aren’t we?
Now that the biggest piece of furniture has gone, my living space is going to feel empty and strange until I move; there will be just an odd mix of occasional chairs dotted around, while the spare bedroom is already bare, its desk having been taken away last week, the bed stripped, wardrobe doors open wide, packing begun. I love it! I just love the idea of losing stuff, of stepping away from the familiar, free of mementoes and souvenirs and the clutter of life. I cannot wait to get a skip outside and throw into it all the stuff I have no need of – in will go all my awards and theatre and TV posters, old scripts and books of plays that I’ve never read but have dutifully kept because one of mine is in those collections. The stuff that others might be able to use will go elsewhere but the skip is the bit I’ll relish. Can’t wait!
I look forward to walking around this house when the removals van has gone, revelling in the restored spaciousness, and the echo, enjoying the height of the ceilings, the expanse of the wooden floor, uncluttered. I think I will wander around this lovely old building for an hour or so before leaving, to enjoy it as it is, and to say ‘thank you’ to it.
I’ve never quite been able to do this before, let go of everything I don’t personally want, I’ve always had a husband or a daughter or granddaughters, or work, or … you know, someone or something to accommodate. Now there’s just me, sliding happily down to the end. Yes, it’s bloody lonely at times but this is the upside of it and I will be delighted to take what I need for the journey but no more. (Oh, ok a few bits I don’t need but do love, like my dogs, my coffee machine, a few tug-of-the-heart ornaments, some books, and some silly bits and bobs like Christmas decorations).
There is a wonderful freedom and lightness in shedding what we don’t need.
I think that this is what a ‘good death’ will be like.