My end table sighed and leaned slowly forward.
“Not again,” I complained.
He wouldn’t listen.
For a moment, his legs stuttered across the carpet as he twisted sideways and tried to catch himself – but it was no use.
He slapped the floor hard.
My reading lamp crashed against the wall, my novel skidded under the couch and my bottle of beer bounced off to God knows where.
He does that now and then – this collapsing thing.
It is not that I ask too much of him – just to bear the meager weight of a reading lamp, a paperback and a bottle of beer. Still, my end table cannot manage even that for long.
Perhaps it is because time has its own weight and given enough of it, even a small load can become too much for the strongest of objects. But well before that, my end table simply gives up and falls over. It is then that I take him apart, apply fresh glue to his joints and set him back on his feet.
I have a lot of stuff like that.
My reading lamp blinks on and off for no apparent reason. My coffee pot has its moods. My snowblower is downright rebellious. Yet I remain loyal to all of these things despite their bad habits.
You might say we are family.
The coffee pot and snowblower are recent additions but the end table and I go way back. Back to the days when an old girlfriend left me.
Leaving me would not be so bad – if it was only she who left – but my stuff went with her. All my appliances, both major and minor, followed her out the door and the furniture wasn’t far behind.
She cleaned me out so thoroughly that she stripped the contact paper off the closet shelves – but being cleaned out was not the worst of it.
The worst was being cleaned out – literally.
She scrubbed the floors.
She dusted the windows.
She brushed away every last cobweb – and not one bit of it was done out of charity. She not only wanted me out of her life but she wanted every vestige of herself gone with her. It was her way of telling me to forget her.
The girl sure knew how to make a point.
So maybe in that sense it was a kindness. Still it hit me like a wrecking ball.
In time I set about replacing the things she took. I didn’t have a lot of money (she took that too), so I filled my house by emptying the Salvation Army Store.
It is where I got the end table.
I blame myself for the poor little guy’s condition. My depression must have got to him. My mood was so dark, so deep and so heavy that the weight of it became too much for even him to bear.
He never really got over it.
So every time the world overwhelms him, I put him together again.
But who am I kidding?
Of course this is all a metaphor and it is one that I continue to live with – not because my grief was too precious of a thing to lose – but rather it was the joy of my recovery that I refuse to let go of. So every time the little guy feels faint and falls over, I rush to his aid.
And every time I do, I become stronger for it.