Saturday, September 4, 2010

Left Side of Bed for Rent.

051/365 - half-empty

Earlier I sent an email to a new Internet friend, sharing with him about a real restlessness that I am feeling. I get this way every night lately. I am back to where I don't go to sleep any earlier than two in the morning. I'm not doing anything of particular interest, just wasting time, and not wanting to sleep. I am actually feeling quite tired after several of these nights, yet as before, sleep holds little value to me once again.

I think my bed has returned to being that place where I am unpleasantly reminded that Michael is not here, and that I am alone. For awhile there I was doing better in this area. I had kind of hit my stride in finding my bed more relaxing, and beginning to enjoy having the added space. I was using both sides of the bed for sleep, and not relying on that pile of pillows to occupy that Michael-less space.

So now it's time to stop whining about this sleeping alone problem, and finally do something about it. I have decided to post a personal ad in order to once, and for all, fill the vacancy.

Personal Ad:

Are you tired of sleeping alone?

Do you find that there is more than enough space next to you for someone else?

Did someone once occupy that space, and leave you?

Not to worry, it happens. I know that you are likely feeling alone in this, and I'm sorry to have to confirm this, because if you are reading this, and nodding you head, well, you are alone.

You are not likely the only person to be alone in their bed right now. Many people sleep alone. Some even prefer it. Remember Ricky and Lucy? They were happily married, but for many years we saw them get into separate beds. Why you may ask? Well, I suspect that Lucy needed her beauty rest, and being married to a hot Latin lover can have it's downsides. Well, a downside if he is keeping you up all night and you need to be up early in the morning.

What? You don't like to sleep alone? You are a victim of being left alone in your bed? Well, I sympathize with you. It can't be easy to suddenly stop sharing your bed with someone you loved. It also can't be easily to stop sharing your bed with someone you just kind of liked.

Now, ask yourself, what am I looking for in someone to share my bed at night? This is not necessarily an easy question to answer. Imagine that you were in a difficult relationship, one where you often went to be angry. It couldn't have been easy, or very pleasant, to have to share your bed under these circumstances. What about if you shared your bed with someone you really loved? Under this circumstance you would likely be looking to share your bed for very specific reasons. Right?

Can we be candid here? Of course we can, this is just between you and I. Nobody else is reading, which I'd like you to keep in mind when you respond to this ad. Let's talk about what exactly went on in that bed that might have been pleasant. What? There were things that happened there that you would describe as beyond pleasant? Well, can I just say that you now have me blushing. Let's just make a quick reference list of the top 10 most memorable things that occurred in that bed. Would that be okay?

Top 10 events that occurred in our bed.

1. Slept together for the first time as a married couple. How wonderful. I have a little confession to make. My husband and I slept in that bed together long before that wedding night. I'd like to keep that a secret between close friends though. I can trust you right?

2. Had sex together for the first time. Okay, maybe we jumped the gun, and didn't quite make it to the house that first time, but you know what I mean. When ever that first time happened in the bed, well, it was certainly special.

3. Conceived our first child. Maybe this happened for you, but try as we may, over and over again, we were never able to conceive. We never quite figured out what the problem was. Who can be bothered with such questions when you are so busy enjoying yourself, right?

4. Waking up next to the person you love. Because I had kids at home, nobody shared my bed unless I knew it was a serious relationship. And, nobody shared my bed unless my kids knew it was a serious relationship.

5. Breakfast in bed. No, my husband Michael never made me breakfast in bed. The sweet little fucker liked to sleep in too much, but I'm not bitter. I remember one morning, probably Father's Day, my youngest son decided to make breakfast for Michael and I. He had seen us cook pancakes on a black griddle we placed on top of the stove many times. Unfortunately, the griddle was kept right next to the plastic cutting board, which was also black, and Remy didn't know the difference. He also didn't quite measure the batter correctly because he used the coffee pot, with it's measurements of cups, while following the directions on the pancake box. Anyway, he didn't burn down the house, and we had a wonderful first, and only, breakfast in bed.

6. First Major fight unresolved at bedtime. I only mention this here because it happens, not too often, but let's be honest, sometimes we go to bed angry. And sometimes when your spouse falls asleep, forgetting to beg for your forgiveness for being completely wrong, they accidentally lose their pillow, get stabbed in the side with your elbow, find that the blankets have kind of moved to your side of the bed, and they are somehow shaken until they wake the hell up. Now this is all theoretical of course. Just keep in mind that when you wake up in the middle of the night, and you finally resolve those angry feelings, there is still lots of pent up energy that can only be carefully processed with steamy hot make up sex.

7. Morning headaches in bed which are unexplained. This can be confusing for some. We are often accustomed to hearing about headaches the night before, be in the morning? Your spouse complains every morning for several weeks about increasing headaches, and not feeling well. You initially wish he would stop complaining, and get his ass out of bed so that he can be the first one in the shower. You later learn that something might be wrong with him, and he soon finds himself going to doctor appointment after doctor appointment trying to find a reason for all these headaches.

8. Holding your spouse in bed when he is falling apart with the news that he has a brain tumor, and that he needs emergency surgery. Okay, so maybe this isn't going to be on every one's top 10 list of events in bed, but it was a significant one in ours. It was that pivotal moment that our life changed, and that my role changed. Our bed was never the same.

9. The last time you sleep in the same bed with your spouse. Now in most of the movies that I have watched the dying spouse dies in their bed, and that is certainly how we expected it to happen. He did die at home, and in our bedroom, but in the weeks that preceded his death our life became far too complicated, and his safety prevented us from keeping him in our bed. One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was to take apart our bed so that I could replace it with a hospital bed. Our bed is not this simple bed that can be quickly taken apart and moved. It is an enormous double chest bed, with many different parts that take a considerable amount of time to take apart or put together. It was agonizing to make the decision that was going to be in his best interest, but heartbreaking when he didn't understand why there were metal bars between the new bed, and the small day bed that was pushed up next to it. He still stretched across at an angle to lay his head on my pillow. This is one of those memories that cuts me deep, and I am in agony just describing it.

10. Sleeping alone in your bed for the first time without your spouse. I did this gradually. At first I slept in the hospital bed that remained in our bedroom. Then when the medical supply company was taking too long to pick it up, I couldn't stand it any longer. I completely took apart that hospital bed, piece by piece, and laid it in a corner. I then brought in our mattress, and slept on the floor next to the dismantled hospital bed. Then my brothers came to help me put my bed frame back together, so that I wouldn't have to do it alone. Then I laid in that bed, and the wailing began. It has now been almost a year, and that bed has absorbed so many tears, and continues to both bring me comfort, and yet keep reminding me that something, or someone, is missing.

So now, where were we? Oh yes, an empty spot in your bed that is keeping you from adequately sleeping.

Single, (obviously}, gay, Latino, middle aged, Catholic-Buddhist, lifelong insomniac, widower seeks bedfellow, or bed-gal, to take up some space laying prone on the left side on one double height, full-size, bed. Sexual favors would not be expected, but certainly not completely out of the picture. After all a guy has needs, well, unmet needs.

Not looking for any long term commitment. Would be willing to offer trade, you sleep in my bed, I sleep in your bed, and so on. Multiple parties welcome to apply, as a rotating schedule of shared bed time is certainly possible. Perhaps an arrangement of shared bed time, with built in times alone, can be agreed upon. Hey, apply as a group. See how many in your bereavement group might be interested in participating together.

Oh, and only serious spooners need apply.


  1. Great piece, and both funny and sad. Points 7 to 9 were very familiar to me. #7 as I remember how Don started having trouble getting going in the mornings which was so out of character for him.
    #8 was probably more "me falling apart" as Don had received a preliminary CT report indicating the likelihood of cancer while I was away in the PNW and he didn't tell me until the night I arrived home. It was such a shock. And #9 was especially sad as Don stopped being able to sleep in a normal bed almost around the time I returned home from the west. He had so much spinal pain that he slept in a large recliner chair in our living room for months. I just kept adding more and more memory foam and duvets to increase the softness as his pain increased. I sometimes used to say that it was a bit like that story of the Princess and The Pea. All through that year, I slept on the sofa in the living room and our bedroom became nothing more than a place to store clothes. When Don died, I went back to sleep in that room for the 4 weeks or so before I went on the road, then I dragged the bed out to the highway and tossed it out on garbage day.

    Those are some of the weird, sad memories that seem to have been coming back to me this past few weeks as part of my brain keeps reminding me of what time of year it is.

    Anyhow, an excellent piece of writing, Dan.

  2. We had two beds - because we stil had two houses, though we largely lived at his. We built the bed at my house together, I put the mattress from our house on top of the one at my house, making it very princess-and-the-pea. I had to pack up our primary house and move everything into the other house. I just could not let go of our smell, his smell, in our bed. But then sleeping on stacked mattresses was wrecking my back, and I pretty much slept on the couch for months and months anyway, so I propped his mattress in the spare room, against the wall. It sits with the parts from the bed we built. His sarong is still hanging over the end of the iron bed, and aw, shit, dan, now I am crying.

    Damn empty spot in the bed.

  3. Well written post, both sad and funny (as Bev already pointed out). I still move extra pillows to Austin's spot every night. I don't even think about it any more, it's just become habit, like laying in his arms and talking over the day. I hate the empty spot in my bed, but at this point I think I'd also hate if anyone else was there so there's no solution for me. Damn!

  4. yeah, crying here too dan. all day, all yesterday, all this week...not sure what is going on...
    we had some similar "bed" times as what's on your list, including the hospital bed, where jeff died. i couldn't sleep in it afterward, though.

    when taking apart our own antique bed i found one filmy silky piece of something he had brought home which we had played with a long, long time before, before his illness. It is still there, fastened around one bedpost. I can't look at it but i know it is there. oh, man, we used to have so much fun in bed! all different kinds of fun, as one does when two make one complete unit. it was wonderful to be free enough to be silly, be experimental, be whatever.
    i saw your comment or post about not wanting to make a mistake by craving touch so much, and i feel the same way. yes there are hugs from friends, and my darling daughter, and paid massage, but none of that is the same, and there is no one that could help, and i wouldn't want know. but earlier this morning i thought, since we both talked of craving touch so much and being afraid of sending the wrong message or falling into a trap somehow. i worry that one friendly hand on my shoulder by one of several people i can think of and i'd just fall apart and do something we might both regret later. and i'm not strong enough. i can't afford that, i know it. i thought of sending you a note telling you i wish we were closer so we could just lie back to back in the bed or cuddle, or something. i thought you would be offended so i didn't. and here you are with this post.

  5. Love this post for so many reasons, Dan! I alternate between sleeping on my side, his side, and in the middle of the bed. We had a king sized bed so there are plenty of places to chose from. And that makes it feel all that more empty.

  6. Funny & sad - as has already been mentioned.

    We weren't married, so #1 doesn't apply.
    #2, #3, #4 & #5 all apply. I hate sleeping on crumbs, though, thus I'm not much a fan of #5. Funny thing is that Brent once spilled coffee on a sheet & the stain hasn't come out yet, though it's fading. It's one of my favorite sheets now, although for a long time it looked more like a poop stain - which it is REALLY not!

    #6. I was pouting once & camped out in the living-room... for maybe 5 minutes... Ha.

    Can't even imagine your #7. My #7 was more joyful - morning sickness.

    #8 made me wonder about this question I've had for a long time. Is it "better" to know or "better" for it to be sudden & unexpected. The word "better" being a poor word choice, of course. Does being able to prepare for a good-bye make it any easier? Harder? - I guess bottom line is that either way it stinks.

    I never thought about #9, but going back it was the day we found out that I was pregnant. We left for NYC the following morning... Sigh. (That was an interesting revelation as it is likely that our child will also be born in that bed.)

    #10 - Since Brent and I had a "halfway around the world" long-distance relationship, I was sort of used to sleeping in my bed alone, but cuddling in bed was certainly a highlight during visits.

    Thanks for this post, Dan. It sparked some beautiful memories...

    I hope you will get plenty of applications. :-)

  7. Let me tell you Carolyn, not much offends me. And nothing really offends me when it comes to looking for solutions to our sorrow. Good idea actually.