A Still, Dark Night

Dearest Rachel –

I haven’t taken everything down, now that Chompers is with you. There is a lot to wash and pack up that belonged to him that we’ll never use again, and I’m in no mood to go through it all right away. But one thing that I did remove almost immediate is the night light that was plugged in next to the space heater in our bedroom.

We’d had that, not necessary since we adopted him, but probably shortly thereafter. And as I’d prefer to sleep in as close to pitch dark as possible, it is one of the first things to go now that he’s gone.

It’s not my first time sleeping in pitch darkness; the nights spent in Colorado were so dark that I could barely feel my way from the light switch to the bed. I’d say those were restful nights, but the weather was so dry there that I took to drinking more water than I otherwise would, with the logical result that I found myself stumbling towards the bathroom in the middle of the night on more than one occasion, defeating the purpose of the darkness.

But between the removal of the nightlight, and the fact that the old boy was no longer here to wake me up with his need to go outside and pee, last night promised to be a long, dark, still night for the first time in a very long time.

First things first, however: I need to reacclimatize myself to not having to take a nap in the middle of the day. That’s a practice I now have to unlearn, and it’s literally not going to be overnight: between being awakened at four, and later, seven in the morning yesterday by the old man, plus the emotional toll of putting him to sleep, I still wound up leaning back in the recliner yesterday afternoon and napping for an hour or two.

While I am mildly refreshed by doing this, I also find myself somewhat embarrassed particularly since Kevin is over. what kind of post falls asleep on his guest, after all? It would be rude enough if you were still here, and we were playing both host and hostess, and could shift duties at any given time, with you picking up the slack should this happen to me. Now the responsibility falls entirely on my shoulders, and apparently they can’t bear that weight alone. Kevin being the sort of friend he is, and the circumstances being what they are, he is able to deal with it, but that still doesn’t make it right.

Still, we managed to wade through our new routines (well, old routines restored, but you understand what I’m talking about) as he joins us at in-person Bible study, where he is able to hold his own in discussion, since he’s long been the type to study theology for fun. Of course, he also knows when to hold back, too.

This is followed by deciding on, and picking up, dinner. It occurs to me that, when we were down in Franklin, we would go to the actual local restaurants with him; but here, it feels like I’m giving him short shrift by merely stopping at local installations of national chains. They’re so much more ‘fast-foody’ than the places we visited down there. Not to mention, the nearest place to campus is one that we used to frequent when we would visit him down there, as it’s only relatively recently moved into our area. When I apologize to him about this, he responds that he doesn’t get the chance to visit even the local chains in his own day-to-day routine, so this isn’t necessarily like forcing him to go back to something that he’s already a regular at.

I forget all too often that our lifestyle habits are just so different from most people’s.

Anyway, the rest of the evening proceeds as a normal – well, as normal as things get these days; I really don’t know what constitutes ‘normal’ anymore – and we’re up watching and playing stuff on our various computers, not unlike the old days when you were here. At some point around eleven, I find myself nodding off during a video that I would ordinarily find perfectly interesting, and conclude that it’s time I headed off to bed, as I no longer have to stay up to keep up with Chompers’ own sleep schedule.

Forgive me, honey, but I do find it liberating.

Your side of the room still has his bed, his floof (which he hadn’t used for the last three or four months, because it kind of immobilized him), and a couple of blankets, which I make a mental note to put in the laundry one last time either today or tomorrow. The treats that I attempted to hand-feed him on Tuesday night are still lying on one of the blankets, not completely untouched, but with a few gnaw marks in them. They’ll never be used; I pick them up and throw them in the waste bin.

Now, I can get ready for bed.

Even with the nightlight pulled, it’s still not entirely dark in the bedroom. What with the French doors overlooking the deck, and the family room being on the opposite side of the deck, there is light (and conversation) that seeps in from across the house.

At least, unlike Chompers’ whining, I can ignore it. And so, to sleep… eventually.

I say eventually not so much out of the fact that I’m dogged by the dark, quiet emptiness of the room; it’s more just the usual lag between getting up from a moment of near-unconsciousness, to having to perform the laundry list of pre-bedtime rituals that paradoxically tend to wake you up, to actually settling down to bed. However, I do find myself actually conscious of the fact that something is different; and for once, I’m absolutely certain what that something is.

I wake up this morning to a gray room, and a gray sky. The sun isn’t up yet, and it’s not even seven. I’m back to my old routine, before we had the dog, before I left my job.

But now… there’s no one to enjoy that empty time with.

Well, the least I can do is get showered and dressed before Kris gets here to clean the place up. It’s a little disorienting; I still think I hear a whine, a bark, as he continues to object to my not being there as he wakes up. But I know that’s in my imagination.

He’s with you – or am I hearing him from all the way over there?

If so, could you calm him down for me? I’m sure we’d both be grateful.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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