It doesn’t happen every night, I’m not sure why it does, but sometimes late at night, when its dark, when I first turn off the distractions around me and my mind starts to move to blessed sleep a profound sense of aloneness finds me. It’s when I lay there alone in the pitch black of night, right after I turn on my side and pull the sheet up to my neck and move my legs to find the softest coolest parts of the sheets that I miss her the most.
It’s when the television goes off and the noise of the house is dulled but my brain has yet to make the transition that I miss, no, I crave that beating heart, that deep breathing, that human electrical aura that all bodies exude. It’s when the loneliness slowly creeps through in the darkest parts of the night I miss the presence of her in my bed with me every night.
Before Marty’s strokes, when the kids were still home and they were asleep in their rooms and the house was the quietest I wondered if they ever got lonely in the pitch of the night. I wasn’t; I had this woman who loved me, whom I loved, beside me. I thought then how lucky Marty and I were that we always had that place, that time to be part of each other’s lives
I don’t think Marty and I would have been one of those couples that eventually moved to separate bedrooms for better sleep hygiene. While we had our differences; she didn’t like the fans blowing on her, she just liked the white noise of a machine, I wanted it as cold and windy as it could be without blowing the covers, we both coveted the presence of the other. Even with those differences, I slept with her with comfort, secure with the basic human existence always close enough to touch, to caress, to kiss. We would sleep, I would snore (I have the bruises from her elbows to prove it); she would sleep on her right side and dream, sometimes telling me what those dreams meant.
I love that Marty’s still with me. She’s just down the hall; sound asleep with the gentle hum and hiss of an oxygen concentrator producing just a bit more oxygen for her to sleep comfortably. She sleeps on her back now because of the machines; she sleeps soundly now because of the medicine, she sleeps in another room now so I can rest and she can be cared for throughout the night, she sleeps down the hall now so I can turn my brain off enough to find sleep.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, when it is the quietest, when all are asleep, when it is dark, I quietly walk down the hall and look in on her and her caregiver. Quietly, so as not to disturb, I watch her for just a minute, I watch as her chest rises and falls with each deep breath, I watch knowing her heart continues to beat, I watch wondering if she is dreaming.
In the late part of the night, when fever’s rise and hearts slow, brains still move, minds still calculate causing emotions, feelings, and angst to blossom. The darkness brings rest, it brings peace, it revives. The night reminds me of dreams told, nightmares realized and the softness of her touch. I wonder if she still dreams.