There’s this thing that happens, sometimes.
When my husband falls asleep before I do, and I lay there to the right of him, and just be still.
The house is mostly silent, except for the occasional bump or bang from our next door neighbours. I might, occasionally, hear Berkley – our cat- running about or snoring in the hallway.
But the sound that steals my attention most, is the sound of my husband. Sometimes he is snoring. Sometimes he will grunt or groan, or mumble a slurred word. But always, I can hear him breathing. A steady rhythm that the nurse in me doesn’t bother to count. A peaceful sound, slow, unending; that helps me calm and reminds me that sleep waits.
When I can’t fall asleep, I’ll sometimes turn to face him, and just listen. Watch the steady rise and fall of his chest. Or I’ll close my eyes and breathe with him.
And just before I drift off to join him in dreamland, I think to myself I could lay here and listen to this forever. And when he is away, I know that’s why I struggle to find sleep.
I am not lucky enough to have my husband for all of my nights. I married him knowing he could spend many of them far from home, far from the comfort of our warm bed. And I know someday, the sound of my husband sleeping will be interrupted by a baby’s hungry cry, or a toddler’s scary dream. A teenager’s broken heart. I know, someday, his breath will be interrupted, and I might not hear it ever again.
So when I can’t fall asleep – when the tendrils of a dream are just out of my reach, I’ll turn and reach for him. Perhaps, lay my hand on his strong shoulder, and allow him to carry my burdens. I’ll think of all the nights I have already spent without him, and about the ones that are sure to lay ahead. And I won’t worry. I will, eventually, sleep.
Because he is there. He is mine. He takes my breath away and supplies my air all at the same time. I could just listen to him breathe, well, until I myself cease to do so.