We used to call it the glow worm. It was pimped out with electric blankets and soft pillows and padded mattress toppers and fluffy comforters. She was so stinking cute in her little matching pajamas, even with all that cancer bloat. On the weekends I visited, we watched TV in the living room until she got tired. She announced her bedtime and leaned over me and Haley for good night kisses. It gave me relief to finally hear the bedroom door shut behind her. Whew. Now I can relax a bit. Now I can work a bit. Now I can call my wife. Now I can speak to Haley in hushed, worried whispers.
My guilt snores heavily on this bed. Why didn’t I follow her into that room and sleep by her side, JUST FUCKING ONCE? I constantly scan the wreckage of my mind for potential white flags. This is one I could have raised with such ease and compassion. Awake in the same room was war at worst, stalemate at best. Rest in the same room – a peace too obvious, I guess.
I can't say for sure how mom felt during her last nights in this bed. For me, those nights were hallucinatory; they smashed and slid into each other as if whoever was in charge of my existence decided to scrap the project entirely and make pancake batter instead. I spent stir-crazy 4ams tiptoeing to the bathroom in search of a shred of sanity. I dialed Audrie in the wee hours and begged her through sniffles to come NOW. Soon, love, she’d sleepily say. After the toilet tantrums, I’d crawl back into this godforsaken bed, where the madness of night welcomed me with a hungry snarl.
The night Audrie flew in for the funeral, we slept together in mom's bed, in mom's room. I didn't even think of mom rolling over in the grave she was awaiting at the disgusting thought of her disgusting daughter doing disgusting things with that disgusting friend she calls her wife. I didn't think at all, in fact. My mind was the light-less part of the moon, and we moved like the wave-less part of the ocean, but for just a few moments, my unfathomable nightmare segued into a tolerable reality where deliverance was still an option. I spun a simple, prickly web of cotton panties, hairy legs, and bare breasts. It was not the silky seduction Audrie was accustomed to, yet she still volunteered as prey. She knew I was starving.
This is just one bed where one person died one day. (Well, she actually died in another bed that took Hospice an eternity to deliver, but that's another post altogether). I think of all the deathbeds and all the generations and all the families and all the countries in all the world and I wonder if I will die in a bed at all. Will my love be by my side or will I be by hers? Will my child or children be left with anything other than a Rubix cube of a relationship to try an unscramble? Why don’t we talk about these people and these beds and these times and these traumas? People say love is the great unifier, and I believe it is. But loss? Loss is the index finger on the hand of love, and it points to us all. What if we used that finger to connect to ourselves and each other in a God-to-Adam-Elliott-to-ET kind of way? Just like energy is restored with rest, maybe loss can give way to its own opposite. Not just within broken and hurting little me but also within a broken and hurting little world. We just have to be willing to talk about it - openly, honestly, collectively. What can be found or resurrected in the wake of great loss? How might making more room for death allow us to make more room for life?
I got all that from laying in a bed. Sheesh.