Sleeping, once a reliable natural process, is now a nightly challenge, a precious luxury. Falling asleep on my own, without benefit of Ambien, is cause for celebration, even a childish pride – I fell asleep all by myself! And if I happen to achieve that goal, my initial drift into slumber is fragile. While it would not blend well with our colonial décor, after last night, a blinking neon “Do Not Disturb’ sign is something I’m considering for the bedroom door.
For the past two weeks, my husband, Dave, has been exhausted, stressed and gloomy. After an hour-long commute from work yesterday evening, he dragged himself in the back door and announced, “I’m going to bed early tonight.”
But, he did not count on the Celtics.
Following dinner, as I headed upstairs to book and bed, Dave passed me in the hall, his arms laden with hangers, slacks, and an iron. “The Celts are playing and I've got some ironing to do. Be up soon,” he said, planting a quick kiss on my cheek.
Apparently, his definition of “soon” differs from mine, because I washed up, wrote in my journal and read for a bit before turning out the light. And still no Dave. It must have been a long game.
Stealth is not Dave’s strong suit when he readies for bed. I was awakened from the pleasant sleep I’d managed to slip into all by myself by his thumping, teeth-brushing and flushing. A glance at the clock told me it was 11:45. Damn.
Evening toilet accomplished, Dave snuggled in beside me, threw an arm over my shoulders and dropped off to sleep within seconds.
I took a sip of water from the cup on the nightstand, re-applied my Chapstick and pulled the covers up to my chin. Rats. I sort of had to go to the bathroom. Not too badly, but enough to think about it. Enough to get up and trudge down the hall.
Once I returned to bed, Dave’s night noises had increased in volume. He’d moved past soft splutters to a gutteral gurgle. It was amusing, actually, and I smiled as I curled on my side and closed my eyes. A gasping, snorting transition from gurgle to full-out snore stole the smile from my face and nudged me toward annoyance. “For heaven’s sake, Hon,” I whispered, perhaps louder than necessary. I poked him gently but firmly enough to put his snoring on pause. Only briefly.
Lying grim-faced next to the sound-machine in my bed, I practiced the conversation I planned for the morrow, a conversation in which sleep deprivation and lack of consideration figured heavily. With a shudder, Dave let loose a thunderous snore which drove me to press my fingers, hard, into a muscle in his back. A deep press. A press that bespoke my growing irritation. A press that made it clear I didn’t care if I woke him.
And he stopped snoring. In fact, he stopped breathing. For a while. For too long. “Honey?” I said, my voice guilty and concerned.
No answer, but his breathing resumed.
So, I knew he was fine, but that breathless silence reversed my mood. I thought past the snores, to the dear man with whom I share basil martinis on Friday nights, Sudoku on Saturdays and on Sundays, “Meet the Press.” I thought about our wonderful kids and thirty-five years of marriage. I thought about the cold, lonely silence that was the alternative to companionable snores. And so successful was I in my maudlin meanderings that I got a little weepy and cuddled closer to Dave. Despite the fact that he was still asleep, he stirred at my touch, kissed my hair and whispered, “Love you.”
One would like to think that this cozy scene ended with me soothed to sleep, all by myself. But no. Dave wheezed and grumbled while I tried to settle in and snooze, and finally, I reached for the Ambien.