The Chair At The End Of The Table
It's the little things that hit us the hardest, in the end. It isn't the big things, the obvious moments or clues or notices. It isn't that the bedroom door is never opened, but the fact that the sign fell off of it and lay on the floor for weeks because no one dared to touch his things that makes us heave and choke and sob and want to die.
It isn't that the meal was his favorite, it's the extra portions left over that would have gone to him long before they were ever labeled as extra that makes us want to curl into a tiny ball beneath the table, close our eyes and never wake up.
But the worst, for me, the worst thing of all the little hints and reminders that remind me of little tiny cuts that keep reopening – the worst is his chair at the end of the table.
It is there all day, every day, a small, constant, stabbing reminder that he's gone for good. It's that leg on the far left side of the chair that always bends in the summer so he always has to fix it – but it's bending now and where is he? I think this and then have to remember that he isn't anywhere, unless you believe in Heaven.
I wake up in the morning and it's not the absence of his voice in the room next to mine, but the absence of the smell of his cologne that would drift through the hallways and steal into my room in the early mornings.
I miss not his loud, brash laugh but the way he'd stare at you if he thought you were being particularly idiotic.
And yet nothing reduces me to a small, pathetic, sniveling version of myself quite the way that chair does. It's paint, chipping around the edges and flaking onto the floor – no one dares sweep up the chips, because they are a piece of him, they have touched him and therefore are not to be so much as breathed upon.
I feel a sharp pain in my stomach at the sight of his shoes sitting by the doorway. I stare into his bedroom and my heart slows as though it will stop and I can almost see his form, bent over his desk or lounging on his bed …
And yet at every meal my eyes find that chair and my head begins to spin, my heart speeds up, and I begin to shake. Because it's a seat at the table that is unset, is empty, is where he belongs but will never be again. It has always been a little bit off from the rest of the chairs – he insisted that he wanted it for his own when he was little because he thought it made him different from the other gazillion Weasley spawn. It's the fact that usually the background music to our conversation is the rickety squeak of his seat, but lately when we aren't speaking all we hear is silence.
I hate that old wooden chair almost as much as I love it, as I need it, as I would die without it there. I wish it were obliterated and at the same time know that if it were I would have to be, too, because somehow it is the biggest connection I have to him.
I stare at it from where I sit. If I squint hard enough, I can almost imagine Ron sitting there, in his familiar spot, wolfing down immeasurable helpings of food. I picture him looking up and grinning at me – "Chin up, Gin," he tells me. "What's so bad that it's got you looking sad … at dinner?"
The conversation is quiet, as though if we talk too loud we'll disturb something hidden deep inside of us, some deep sadness that threatens to spill over and ruin the façade of a family moving on nicely from tragedy. I look around me and notice most eyes are stuck on the chair as well – and I realize I'm not the only one imagining the sixth Weasley.
It's the small things that get us, in the end.