It’s at night, after my daughter is tucked into bed, I turn down the lights to cuddle under a blanket, reach for the remote, and it hits: absence. I briefly acknowledge my empty sofa with a sigh. Usually, it’s just fine. Usually, I enjoy the time alone and choose whichever show I want to watch. Usually, I’m grateful for the quiet.
But not always. On evenings that I’m especially tired, I wish there was someone to wrap up with, watch TV together, have fingers run through my hair and my forehead kissed as I relax on his chest. When my toes get cold, it would be wonderful to have them held in large palms, pressed until I become warm. It’s on those nights my sofa looks incredibly large and my heart feels just a little alone.
I suppose many people who are single experience this. It took me awhile to get here, to this place, where instead of relishing in my new-found independence, I’ve begun missing the companionship and presence of a man who, while feeling vulnerable, helps you feel safe and protected.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a strong woman. I don’t need to have a man protect me; but if there is a man in my life, I do need to feel that he feels protective of me, that I ignite a desire in him to be concerned for my well-being. You know – checks on you to make sure you’re safe while traveling, holds you tightly after a long day, buys you soup when you’re sick, encourages you to eat breakfast and take care of yourself.
And I miss that. The feeling that you hold a tender, dear, affectionate space in someone’s heart. The knowing that when they feel vulnerable, when they’re having a rough day, it’s you they want, too. It’s your lap they want to lay their head in, it’s you they want to have rub their back and bring them a cup of tea or a drink. That feeling that you’ve got eachother.
So I sleep with a lot of pillows and find myself waking up in the middle of my bed, surrounded by them – little soft clouds – and feel a little less alone. A little less absence. Even if it’s just pillows. An illusion.
I’m not alone, of course. I have my sweet, fiery daughter. I have friends and family who love me, see me for who I am, and accept me. I’m fortunate and grateful. It's in the simple things I find happiness and comfort: the moon; clear, starry skies; good coffee; music; long baths. They make all the difference … most of the time.
But, there are nights I want strong arms around my shoulders and a song gently sung in my ears, lulling me safely to sleep.
Sometimes … I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the bed.