The things that held us
I had cause today to remember several quirks of my late wife. For one thing, Cris liked to insist that “things have feelings.” Socks, in particular — she said that socks have feelings, and miss their mates, probably because she wanted me to be mindful of them and not lose socks, as I was the one who did the laundry. Once she asked me if a particular pair was worn enough to dispose of, and when I said yes, she began to intone, “Today we lay to rest this pair of socks, which gave us long service and comfort…” She didn’t even finish the first sentence of this mock eulogy before I burst into tears. I knew she was joking, but there was also something in her which took seriously the discarding of things and imbued them with such value that they might indeed feel their own estrangement and destruction.
Another thing about her was that she insisted on comfort and quality in furniture, which led to us spending over $2000 several years ago on a bed, a mattress and a Tempur-Pedic foam pad. And speaking of long service and comfort, that’s what that bed set gave us over many years together. I don’t have the slightest notion of when we bought it; maybe ten years ago?
But it started wearing out this winter, and a few days ago, on impulse, I bought a new mattress from Sears online. Today the new mattress was delivered. As I watched the driver and his helper wrestle the old mattress down the steps, I thought to myself, What would Cris say? Would she recall the thousands of nights we spent on that thing? The tears, the sex, the sickness, the dreams, the countless climbings in and out? She might have given the mattress its own eulogy, or perhaps a little farewell song. Such was her sense of whimsy. But I just watched them wrestle it roughly down the front steps and away.
Then I made the bed with the new mattress, and I found out it wasn’t precisely the size of the foam pad. Several inches off, in fact. This never would have happened on her watch. She would have measured everything three times before buying the mattress. But to tell the truth, the foam pad will have to be replaced sooner or later anyway. And when it is, I’ll order one to fit the new mattress. For now, I’m looking forward to my first night’s sleep on the bed, with its now ill-fitting foam pad.
Last night — which happened to be exactly a year after the surgery which revealed her fatal pancreatic tumor — I dreamt that I was with her as she experienced a sharp, nearly orgasmic pain. The pain was so bad that it brought her to her knees and drove her out of her head for a short time. Afterwards, reflecting on this incident, she told me “I was so out of it that I thought you were the cause of the pain. But anyway, it was great,” she concluded with a smile. It’s not true that she ever relished pain; she hated pain. But she did like very intense experiences, and maybe that’s what my unconscious was recalling.