Sleeping in the Daybed

By Sally Gosen Case

Sleeping in the Daybed

A lot has changed. My five-minute makeup now takes ten minutes; there are just so many issues to be addressed. My hair was once a stick-straight flaxen sheet that hung to my waist. Now it spills lightly around my shoulders in a fluff of waves, the result, I’m told, of “all that grey.”

Many other things have changed. So much can happen in nine years. I’ve learned to swim. I’ve climbed mountains. I started college. I now know how to jack up a sagging house and how to wire a 20-amp circuit.

He always said that I should sell my handmade jewelry. He always thought that I could write well. How sad, how strange that I tried both, and succeeded, after he was gone. It had never occurred to me that anyone else would want to wear my art or read my words. He was my ever-present audience. It took the final closing of his forest-colored eyes to prod me into offering myself to others.

I wonder if he would have shared my love for dubstep. I am pulled in by the sudden dissonance, the seemingly random interjections, the unexpected sweetness. It is like life. He was born with music in his bones. He knew a too-strange life in too few years. He would understand.

It was a tiny thing. Microscopic, in fact: One single cell, one infinitesimal mutation that started a craze of sorts. A silent invasion that took control of our collective destinies before he even noticed the first symptom.

Time dragged us into the depths of the disease. Nights became frenzied. Even if he slept, his body fought. I would find myself perched on the very edge of our bare queen-sized mattress, the sheets long since pulled off and the blankets snarled away somewhere else. At times I had no choice but to leave his side and creep out to our old futon sofa in the living room. I dragged into work so depleted and worn that someone finally bought me a fat new futon. It was hard and cold.

After they took his body away, I slept alone in our queen-sized bed. For nine years, I spent every night where he had left me, right on the edge. That is just how I sleep now.

Nine years is not a momentous anniversary of any event, it just happens to be the length of time it took me to notice that I was still using the same edge of the now-quite-worn mattress. It was an ugly bed to begin with, large and plain and bought because he had found it comfortable many years before. It was not comfortable now.

I had a problem. I didn’t need a queen bed. I didn’t even really need a twin bed; I can sleep on the edge of anything. But there is something so final about buying a single bed. Not that I had even had one date in that nine years; somehow a large bed just suggests…possibility. Hope. Future. Someone may love me again, someday.

But I had discovered my own future doing things I had never thought possible. And so, as I began my tenth year of widowhood, I started shopping for my very own bed. I knew I wanted something very plain. Minimalist. Sleek. Modern. I am a person who would attend a garden party in a stark black sheath dress. My father has said that my dream house would have stainless steel walls and a concrete floor with a drain in the middle.

After a good deal of shopping, I somehow ended up with an unlikely, but perfect, bed: a daybed, curlicued, lacy and white. The thing looks like a wedding cake with a mattress. Piled high with fluff and pillows, it is a little girl’s dream. I am nearly six feet tall and have passed the half-century mark, but somehow this mass of shining filigree reached out and grabbed my solitary little minimalist’s heart. Somehow, something inside of me required it. I know this part of me; it’s what drove me, during a short escape from that bedside, to buy every pair of pink shoes I could find. An antidote, perhaps, for that terrible long season when everything was grey and antiseptic and wrapped in bandages.

This is MY bed, a bed for the deep girly part of me, the part that only he could see. Gone is the stark bed, the plain, good-enough and don’t-need-more. This is whimsical, irresponsible, over-the-top fluffy indulgence. It says, not only do I sleep alone, I sleep well. This is my choice, and I am happy here. I have found my place, and I am not sure I even want to find room for someone else right now.

I still wear the stark black sheath. I still strap on my pack and head into the mountains. But now, when I come home, there is a soft and welcoming place that is just for me. It is the nighttime nest of a woman who has, at last, found her peaceful, solitary place in the world.

About this writer

  • Sally Gosen CaseSally Gosen Case lives and writes on the beautiful Oregon coast. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Horticulture, Mary Jane’s Farm, and The Storyteller. Sally and her son coauthor an Oregon travel blog, casingoregon.com.

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