After your husband’s death, did you sleep in the same bed you shared with him?
Phil died at 6:33PM on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. At the end of that horrific day, I stood in the doorway of our bedroom and faced our empty bed. My mom came to stand beside me as I contemplated what to do…go in? stay out? sleep in our room? sleep on the couch? sleep alone? sleep with one of the kids? In a voice that was laced with despair I told my mom that whenever I was away from home over night, Phil would stack all the pillows from our bed (he was always confused by the need for decorative pillows) on my side to keep my place warm until I got back. Quietly my mom went into the room, and moved all those useless pillows into Phil’s empty spot.
The memory of waking up the day after Phil’s death is one of the most clear, and haunting, images of my grief journey. His alarm routinely sounded at 4:30AM, and with the shock and horror of the day no one realized the clock was still set for the next morning. After a fitful sleep, I woke up to his alarm–and the stack of pillows where my beautiful husband should have been. The realization that dawned with the morning sun that my husband was not coming home was one of my most desperate moments. I felt panic rising in my chest as I searched the empty bed with my hand, seeking some sign that I was dreaming. I opened and closed my eyes over and over again hoping that somehow he would appear if I kept repeating the process. My mind raced with the desire to turn back time, to start August 31st over again, to run through the house calling his name, to scream to the world how unfair his absence was–because the reality of those extra pillows in his place was almost too much to bear.
For weeks I stacked those pillows up in his spot before I went to bed, and nodded off hoping that somewhere, far away, he had pillows stacked up for me too.