The night Adrian left this world, I came home to an empty house. I could not sleep and found myself mindlessly pacing up and down the house until morning came. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. Although I knew he would never come back home, I wanted to find him in any dark corner of every room. I found him in the smell of his of clothes in the closet. I found him in the living room, as I remembered when he painted the walls that chocolate-brown color he loved. He was everywhere, and yet he was not home anymore.
I lay in bed that night with my eyes full of tears, my head full of thoughts and a broken heart. It was too soon for me to understand that insomnia would be my new normal for the next 2 years. There was no place for me in our bed that night. It felt empty and foreign. I felt lost. Where was I? For the next several nights I caught fleeting moments of sleep on the living room couch. But that also felt unnatural, so eventually, I forced myself to go back to our bed. My bed. Mine alone now. He was no longer here to share that bed with me.
The first night I slept in the bed alone, a stripped naked and crawled into Adrian’s side of the bed. It was a desperate attempt at feeling his embrace one last time, and I cried into his pillow. The smell of his pillow was strong – beautiful, just like he was. For months I could not bring myself to wash the bedding because it was the only way I had to feel close to him. I refused to simply wash him away.
Two years. That is how long Adrian has been gone. Two years. That is how long I’ve slept in his side of the bed. I suppose I should have known that assuming his side of the bed came with more responsibilities. While I was trying to find him, I have found ways to become more like him. I have to admit that as difficult as it has been, I have reluctantly accepted life’s challenge to take on Adrian’s role. Life has forced me to become the head of the household, a plumber, a gardener, and a carpenter. Even in his absence, I have become his apprentice. Although he is no longer here, perhaps his side of the bed somehow brought him close to me.
On many occasions I have reached over to my (former) side of the bed in a useless attempt to find Adrian. It is a silly feat because, not only am I reaching to the wrong side, but he is just not there. But I reach out anyway, searching for him, and I swear I feel him sometimes. I feel his energy, and I know in my heart, it is him – reassuring me.
Last night, I spoke to Adrian in the dark. I turned to my former side of the bed and tried to touch him. Of course, I didn’t find him. Instead, I found myself. So I tried to comfort the Jessica who is still lost, confused and worn down. I tried to reassure the Jessica who still, after two years, can’t imagine a life without Adrian. I reached my hand out and touched her hair and wiped away her tears. I promised her we were going to be OK. I asked her to look at how far we’d come. I reminded her that Adrian would be so proud of us for not giving up, and assured her we were going to make it. Together. And although I could still see fear in her eyes, I could tell that she trusted me.