Monday, August 5, 2013

Who I Sleep With & Why

Dear John,
I feel much better today, like I told you I would. I was just tired and hurting yesterday. All is well now.
I find it interesting, and a bit puzzling, that my sleeping arrangements shock people. First, everybody expected me to get a new bed. For some reason, they all think that it would be too painful for me to sleep alone in our bed. I find it comforting, though. We picked it out together and loved it, it's part of our shared history, it reminds me of you, and there's still that dip in the mattress that your shoulder made. And I love all of that. I wouldn't like sleeping in a bed that you never slept in. I seem to be in the minority among widows. And that doesn't bother me at all.
The majority of folks are shocked that I sleep with both of the animals. Jethro always slept on his own bed. But when we got back from Indy and you were in the hospital here, he was so worried that you'd gone to work one day and never came back - even after I took your shoes and things in so he knew you were out there somewhere - that he paced all night and kept waiting at the door for you. So I had him come up on the bed and sleep with me. I don't know if it was more comforting to him or me, but it made things so much easier on both of us. He felt more secure, and I felt less alone. I knew he'd be so happy when you came home that he'd be glad to yield his spot to his alpha dog.
But you didn't come home, so he kept sleeping with me. You know I still tend to wake up in the middle of the night and reach out to touch you. And it's so much better to touch warm dog fur than cold, empty bed. When I touch him, I immediately remember and know why you're not there. When he's at the foot of the bed and I touch empty space, I always wonder where you are for a bit - I look to see if the bathroom light is on, and wonder where you went. It takes me longer to remember, and that hurts.
When we got the cat, there was no way I was going to try to teach him to sleep in a cat bed while the dog and I slept in mine. And he'd just been rescued from the dumpster and was all of three months old, poor little thing. So I brought him to bed and he slept cuddled up to my chest for a couple of months. Now he sleeps somewhere on or around me unless it's a hot night, then he sleeps on the floor under the bed.
I never know when I wake up who is going to be where. So I have trained myself to not move until I locate everybody. This morning I woke up five minutes before the alarm was set to go off, with the dog's back jammed up against my back and the cat on my side. Everybody seems to enjoy the first-thing-in-the-morning cuddle. I much preferred that cuddle when it was the two of us. But this is the best I can do without you, so I cuddle with the critters - it's a good way to start the day.
Just why all of this is so shocking is a mystery to me. I believe the people who say it's all nobody's business are right. I see nothing alarming here. I'm not spoiling the animals; they are spoiling me. And your little family sleeps well at night. Unless there are thunder storms, and that's another issue. We love you and miss you. But we keep each other warm at night.

Wish you were here,


  1. Joan, I love your blog!! I am still in our bed and i hate to admit it in public but I am still in the same sheets!!!! I cannot bear to think of changing them. THese are the last that we slept in together. I physically dont know how to do it. It feels as tho it is a last tether to my Phil. A friend sent me a big teddy bear to cuddle and I have put the T-shirt that he had worn and was in the dirty basket onto the bear and snuggle myself into it and breathe in deeply every night. It is 8 weeks and 1 day today and I seem to feel worse with each day that passes if that is possible. It feels like he is slipping further and further away from me. I can't seem to tell people when they ask how I am the truth. It seems to scare them that I could feel so bad and yet still be here. I don;t want to be here but I am and I do feel as crappy as -10 out of 10 on the scale of 1-10. Thank you for having this blog and I found your friend request on Facebook too - thanks.! Just wanted you to know about my bed ( it is rather disgusting isn't it!) but I just cant do it. One day I will im sure but not this day. God bless you Joan. Thank you . Sophie xxx

  2. First, you're not the only person I know that didn't change the sheets - that's very normal. I didn't have to deal with that because when John went into the hospital 3 months before he died, we had no idea that he wouldn't be coming home. I waited a few weeks to wash the last of his underwear, and I cried while I folded it.

    I felt worse every day at that point, too. Somewhere around that time, the numbness starts wearing off. It's a hard stretch, but it will get better. There will always be bad days - I'm having a horrible day today and have no idea why this day in particular. But I've learned to accept and ride out my emotions. The first year is a roller coaster - what you feel is what you feel, and that's that. Don't let anybody "should" you - tell you that you should or shouldn't feel a certain way. It just is what it is.

    Don't hurry about the sheets. It's like everything else in this crazy world we've found ourselves in - you'll know when it's time. If it they help now, keep then on the bed! God bless you, too. I pray every day for our little group of new widows. I'm here for whatever you need!