Conan had a chair. It was his chair, and everyone else in the house respected that. Mostly. Rhys would occasionally make a fuss about it, and Conan was usually magnanimous enough to let Rhys use the chair.
When Conan left us, the chair was empty. It stayed empty. No creature in the house would use it, and the few times I sat in it were unsettling. It felt like I was out of place. Sitting in it didn’t help me feel closer to him as I hoped. It was a gigantic reminder of Conan in the living room, and seeing it empty was painful.
The chair needed to move on.
I posted the chair on Craigslist hoping to find the right home for it. It’s what Conan would want. I couldn’t bear the thought of donating it to Goodwill and not knowing what kind of life it would have. I know it’s just a chair, but it is an important chair. Within a few hours the responses were rolling in faster than I could reply. They all started the same way – I am not interested in your chair, but I wanted to express my sorrow for your loss. People shared pictures of their departed friends and ugly furniture. I read all kinds of stories about cancer, old age, and organ failure. It was touching and darn near the last thing I expected.
Here’s the content of the post.
Dark green leather one-and-a-half chair seeks a good home. Former owner/user was a great Dane who took good care of it – it has been loved for many years but could be loved for several more.
Our Dane passed away in January and this chair has not been used by any other family member. Rather than keep it as a shrine I’d like to see it be of service to a another canine with excellent taste. It’s in good shape with most of the wear on the top of the backrest (due to the younger Dane who liked to stand on it to look out the window).
This is the best dog bed you’ll ever own, and it doesn’t look totally out of place in the living room.
The family we chose wrote to me about their 75-lb. pit bull, Charlie, and Charlie's kitty. They told stories about how Charlie liked to stretch out and roll over on the sofa while they were on it and they figured he would appreciate his own chair.
I felt peace knowing Conan's chair was going to a place where it would be respected and used. I cried when the pickup truck pulled out of the driveway and the chair left my life.
It was just a chair, you know.
It was impossible to live with it every day and heartbreaking to see it go. As much as I knew it was just a chair, it was so much a part of Conan's life that returning to life without it seemed complicated.
Later in the day, Charlie's family honored us with a photo of him appreciating his chair. He took to it immediately and made it his own.
I ugly cried.
This image of a dog I've never met was exactly what I needed. Knowing that Conan's chair was now Charlie's chair helped. I could see that Charlie's life was enhanced thanks to the chair. I could let go of the guilt I felt in letting go of the chair. And I am so grateful to have met a family like Charlie's at just the right time.
Fortunately I still carry all the best parts of Conan with me, chair or not.
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.