The crisp pre-dawn breeze made the lace curtain at the window flutter tentatively against my hand, which lay on the candlewick bedspread. I heard the sounds, so familiar, of the farm slowly coming into its daytime life; the bossy hens clucking as the strutting rooster tried to stake his claim to the dawn, Old Miep rattling the milk buckets and Frieda shaking her matchbox as she prepared to light the kitchen fire.
I kept my eyes shut against the dim light, trying to hold on to those last moments of sleepiness, just five more minutes, I bargained and turned to press myself against Peter’s warm back, to sling my arm over his waist and find that most secret place.
In this bed we’d shared for almost forty years, my palm fell on the coolness of the unoccupied space. It was the same every morning since that day they came and shot him; waking up was the hardest thing to face.
This arose from a challenge issued to write anything using the words ‘waking up’.
This particular little story has stayed on my mind and begs for more attention. I can’t stop thinking about how one moves forward after a lifetime of closeness.
I’m not dismissing the solitude of those who have had a lifetime solo journey, through choice or circumstance. I’m not talking about those who, young enough to try again with a new partner, get divorced. I’m talking about those, like the 65 year old woman in my story, are suddenly robbed of the comfort of touch that has grown so familiar after forty years of marriage. What happens to the psyche?
I can’t bear to think of it, yet I can’t stop.
My own mother survived her widowhood for a while, miserably, and then she just died. She just died. Her autopsy report gave absolutely no reason for her death. The engine stopped, that’s what the doctor said. A slow puncture.
There’s a quote I need to go and find; something about a lack of touch being the cruellest type of sensory depravation …
Ah, here it is:
“Garrison Keillor once wrote that, of all the sensory depravations, the deprivation of touch is the most severe”.