Just a few short days after my brother died, his son was staying down at our house in Houston. He slept on our couch. The next morning I asked him, "do you know your dad built this couch?"
Of course he did. He soaks up everything that touched his dad. He even wears his dad's Michigan football sweatshirts in the Texas summers. Like I said, he soaks up Everything. Including the couch. "Do you know why it's so long?" That he didn't know.
My brother made this couch when he was in college. It served as his bed during one year of living in a house with some buddies so it had to be extra long to fit his 6'4" frame. He gave it to my wife and I when we were newlyweds. We had zilch so any furniture was well appreciated. Come to think of it, we had zilch for anything. He also gave us his car. That's the kind of guy he was. A heart as big as his height. When we got on our feet, I offered the couch back to him. His craft at woodworking had improved greatly so he turned it down. He made that couch during his "Cargo" phase. He had moved on past that. My wife, however, developed an attachment to the couch. So we kept it. Who knew that couch would become a vessel to carry his memory.
And after I told the story to my nephew, I felt hollow. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I guess that I hoped to give him some piece of his dad, no matter how small. But that seemed such a futile effort. How could it be anything but impotent? What was I supposed to do for his son? He didn't tell me. He left no instructions, no guidance, no path. I'm left sorting through my own anger while trying to figure out how to relate to those he left behind. I began waking every morning with a sense of anger.