Posted by: Ken Wheatley | March 23, 2008

Role Reversal

It was very hard leaving her tonight. Very hard. She looked so…at risk…when I looked back at her as I rounded the corner of the door to leave. I had tucked her in for the night – she likes that – and she shooed me away to go home and get some needed sleep. I’ve probably only slept 4 hours in the last two days.

I didn’t think I’d make it this late, but for the first time since we’ve been living together – over two and a half years now – I’m alone in the house overnight. I’m the one that travels all the time and Sheila doesn’t, so she’s the one that’s had to experience the solitude.

When she first moved in she commented about how deafeningly quiet it is when I’m gone. I hadn’t really noticed the vacuum of sound. Until now. Of course I lived here alone for several years, but her presence in the home has completely changed the dynamics of the experience and my sensory expectations. Even if it’s just the sound of her breathing.

So now I find myself feeling ill at ease being here without her under these circumstances. It’s different when I come home and I know that she’s going to be joining me in a matter of a few hours. Certainly before bedtime. But we’re not exactly certain when she’s coming back. They say Monday. Perhaps. And it’s that uncertainty that’s unsettling.

I had laundry to fold so I brought it back to the bedroom. One of her favorite pj bottoms was in the pile and I could picture watching her walk down the hall in them. The way her bottom sways slightly from side to side. She sort of glides when she walks. Little steps compared to how she walks in public.

In between folding her clothes and mine I found myself glancing up at our pillows at the head of the bed. And over at her night stand where Elmer The Bear stands guard. And the countless cards scattered around the room.

As I was putting away some clothes I saw one of her scrunchy’s on top of some books. I picked it up to smell the scent of her hair imbedded in the fabric. It made me miss her that much more, and part of me wants to drive back to the hospital to lay on the corner of her bed.

I’ve paced back and forth around our bed like a dog circles before laying down. But I can’t go to bed yet even though I’m very tired, which is why I’m in my office typing this entry. I’m avoiding the vacuum of sound.


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