We moved here to this new-to-us city just over 4 months ago, a cross country move that could only bear the burden of a tiny amount of our material things. So many items were procured here in the new place, since we arrived with hardly any furniture. Our bed was the one piece we brought home that was brand new. Our one big splurge. A big king-sized bed, it held me and my husband and our baby until she couldn’t sleep there in the middle anymore and needed an entire bed to herself so she moved to the crib I never thought I’d use. Now it’s the two of us in this King and sometimes we meet in the middle and sometimes there’s a canyon between us. It depends on how often we’ve been praying.
The previous bed was a many-times-used family hand-me-down. It was a queen sized that sunk in the middle. It made all closeness even closer and I waited many days past a due date in that bed, willing the trigger for the Earth to move and life to birth forth out of me so I could meet this mysterious person God had named River no matter the baby’s gender.
And then I labored on the bed, and 10 minutes after birthing my daughter in the pool in the next room, I was back in that bed. We slept together there, she and I, and got to know each other. There was no way to know then what I know now. That the crying would stop, the colic would end and my heart would explode on a daily basis for the Promise of her having come true. Or that those co-sleeping moments were more fleeting than I realized, and that our time in that river-side house where River was born would be ending soon.
The previous bed was in a huge Southern country home with a giant veranda and three levels. The bed took up half the room and it was the 5th home that king sized mattress with no boxsprings had lived. It was there that bed cradled me as I slept with a full womb but a baby who had passed away. It was there that we railed at the sky and the ground and everything in between before we woke to a new sunny day finally, for real, and not just pretending.
Before that the bed had been cold in Indiana and in our marriage, and I’d like to not remember any of that time, and before that it bounced around various tiny cottages in Los Angeles, always taking up our entire room and holding all the other sleeping tinies for various amounts of time. It saw so many contractions, so many babies, so many tears, so many heartbeats – fast and slow.
The previous bed was another hand-me-down that was full sized and barely fit the two of us as my belly grew for the very first time. It was where I grew from a young newlywed to a mother by way of a long period of infertility. It was where we watched the wild flowers grow just outside our window and where our too-close-to-our-fence neighbor hollered at us to turn off our alarm clock one morning. It was before I knew what I know now, before I had any idea my world was round and not flat.
Each sheet set over all those beds and years completely epitomized what existential crisis I was at each time I bought it, which sense of self and style I had adopted and where our bank account was on that day. New beds and new houses and all the switching around always brought a sense of refreshing. A chance to start over. Grace and forgiveness sometimes look like a chenille bedspread bought new and other times like my great-grandmother’s quilt. Each new sized bed allowed us to re-invent. To imagine ourselves old and important and empty nesters and here honey, tuck in that new purple duvet over there.