In our lifetime, we spend a lot of time in bed. Contrary to what you may be thinking, beds are not just for sleeping. They actually bear witness to major life events. Throughout history, women gave birth to their children in their own beds. My favorite show is Call the Midwife. In that show, the goal of the midwives is to have their patients deliver their children at home. Why? Because their own beds bring comfort, peace and familiarity.
You will hear people say, “if only I could die in bed”. Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate, talks vividly about her mother’s death in her own bed in Ordinary Light, “We circled her bed, though we stopped short of holding hands, perhaps because that gesture would have meant we were holding on, and we were finally ready to let her go” (Smith 5).
Life and death are pretty heady subjects. On the lighter side, there are ordinary joys in bed. Like when our kids jump into our bed and yell, “let’s snuggle!” We watch Looney Tunes and hold each other close. We laugh and talk. We call it the ‘family bed’ because we got a bed large enough to fit all four of us for Saturday mornings watching cartoons.
I am spending a lot of time in my bed these days. Not by choice. Not for the joy of it. Bed is more of a respite. On most days, it is a destination. Imagine that every afternoon, around 2:00pm, you had mononucleosis. You know, mono? That dreaded sickness where you completely lose all of your energy? It doesn’t happen everyday, mind you. But, most days. This debilitating exhaustion of rheumatoid arthritis is tricky. It’s unpredictable. Yet, when it comes on, all I want to do is be in bed. Resting. So, that my hands and wrists don’t throb in pain. So, I can stop the nausea in my stomach from being that tired.
It is a frustrating effect of this new condition. I want to be up.and present in my life. Being a bedridden spectator is not what I bargained for. But, for now- and hopefully, not forever- I need to listen to my body and rest.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
– Robert Louis Stevenson, “Bed in Summer”