My couch has seen better days. There are white scrapes and slight rips on the sides from pushing it in and out of New York City apartment doorways. Scribbles from an exuberant child artist. A small tear where a scissor got too close. Rubbed out leather from countless hours spent reading, snuggling with my little ones, chatting with my husband and friends.
It’s a big comfy leather couch that served us well for almost twelve years.
I’m usually quick to discard the broken, the ugly, the worn out.
So why hold on?
It’s the memories.
The memory of my grandpa coming to New York on the windswept, watery heels of Hurricane Katrina, blown out of his comfortable retirement home and into the thick of my wedding plans and pre-wedding jitters.
“I’ll shop with you,” he said. I was surprised at that statement. He wasn’t the shopping type.
I wasn’t shocked at his next–”And I’ll pay for whatever you still need.”
He was generous like that, my grandfather.
Luckily for him, the only thing I still needed was a couch.
So we set off together on the search for the perfect couch. Before his offer, I had three criteria: Comfortable (I was a serious couch potato) stain resistant (I planned on having lots of kids) and budget friendly (self-explanatory).
Thanks to him, budget wasn’t an issue now.
We spent a long day trekking from store to store. Nothing was good enough. We left the last store for the day, discouraged and ready to go home, when we saw a man waving to us from across the street. He was the owner of a competing furniture store.
No surprise, we found the perfect couch there.
It stayed with us through eleven+ years, three moves, and four kids.
My grandpa is gone but the couch is still here.
So yeah, I have a hard time getting rid of it.
Today was the day we gutted the couch. It’s a longish story involving a mouse. (Welcome to Brooklyn apartment living…)
I’d seen the mouse dart across the room a few days ago and run behind the couch. (I break no stereotypes here, I have to admit. I screamed.)
(If it looked like this, the story might have ended differently…)
We set up a trap. By morning, the zapper blinked. But there was nothing inside. So we called the exterminator, trying to put aside that uneasy feeling of knowing there’s a mouse possibly running about.
Today there was a strong stench coming from the couch.
Uh oh, the mouse, was the immediate thought. It got zapped and crawled into the innards of our couch to die.
I enlisted the help of my husband. He and our super helpful neighbor Chaim turned the couch over. Nothing.
They shook it vigorously side to side, leaving streaks on newly painted walls, scratching the hardwood floors, in their desire to shake loose this little creature from the depths of our couch.
He was good at the mouse detecting, this neighbor of ours. The smell was coming from the right armrest.
There was no choice. They took a razor blade and cut through that couch.
Sure enough, there it was.
Leaving our couch looking like this.
I guess I can duct tape the couch closed, but I won’t go that far.
There’s an empty pit in my stomach. Tears pop behind my eyelids and I feel silly mourning over the demise of my couch. We’ve certainly had it long enough.
But then again, it never was about the couch.
To my surprise, behind that aching feeling is sense of relief burbling up inside of me.
I imagine my grandpa smiling down at me. “Nechamie,” he says. “It’s time. It’s time to let it go.”
I’ll try Grandpa, I’ll try.
Anyone care to join me on a shopping spree?
I’m off to find a new couch.
I Loved it Nechamie!!
Every thing about ur article!
Funny and emotional.
It’s amazing how well you write! even when it comes to a couch 🙂
I remember that day when Zeide Kohen gave you that wonderful couch!
Things don’t last forever, unfortunately or fortunately.
Life goes on.
Yes, I think we need these kinds of reminders that physical objects are only that–physical.
I laughed; I cried; You really express why we can get emotionally attached to things –and the legacy of a loving grandpa. You are an amazing writer. Even the illustrations are clever. Thanks!
Delicious read. I smiled and teared up. ❤
How proud your Zaida Alvin must be and how Bubbe Ruth is kvelling over this story and your memories. How lucky we are as distant cousins to have happened across your ” Writing The Soul, ” EULOGY TO MY Couch.” I cried and laughed both at your memories and ours of the times we spent with your grandparents. Thank you so much for sharing such sweet thoughts. My husband Sam lived with your great grandmother Lena
Cohen,for a while when he was about 2 , as she was kind enough to take him when Sams’s mother Toby of blessed memory died, and Aunt Lena took Sam into their family to care for him while Sam’s father worked. Sam’s mother and your Great Grandfather were sister and brother.
Thank you for helping us recollect.
Thanks, Gert! I never knew that about my great-grandmother, Lena. Thanks for sharing!