For Want of a Pillow
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I bought a pillow yesterday. It was not one of the prettiest pillows you've ever seen. It didn't have a patterned cover depicting some beautiful pastoral setting with a family picnicking. It isn't a small decorative pillow like you would see on a couch in some home decorating magazine. It is just a simple plain pillow.
I didn't want to make too big a deal about it. It was just a soft pillow. One that I thought I could rest on, that might help my sleeping. You see, I've lost my wife through a divorce recently. She had a resurgence of a lesbian background (that I was not aware of) with a "friend" of hers. I walked in on them, in my bed. They were both asleep, snuggled up close to each other. That was the beginning of the end for my wife and me.
As I reflect back on that moment, I realize that for the proceeding four to five months, my wife and her friend had been getting closer and closer. My wife co-signed a loan with this woman so that she could get a car. My wife helped this woman get a divorce from her husband, both emotionally and as a language translator. My wife, I see now, was trying to cut the bonds between us. She was saying, in her own way, that I was no longer of need/interest in her life. She had a new someone to care for.
At the time, I was going through such emotional pain that it is amazing to me that I didn't do something more physical about it. I mean, I'm a guy, the "physical thing" is what we are supposed to do, isn't it? We are supposed to be the abusive ones, the women are supposed to be the abused. In the end, they get the kids, the house, and the guy gets put away in jail for a few months, then moves on.
Well, to say the least, I'm not that kind of guy. I took all of the crap that my wife was busy dishing out into my plate. I sat by and didn't raise a hand to her when she and her "friend" took our three young children and "vanished" from our house at about 4:30 or so (just before I could take off from work) and would then proceed to stay out until 8:00-9:00pm. My wife would come home, drop off the kids (who would be tired, angry for having been dragged around, etc.), change clothes, and then run off with her "friend" to her night-shift job. Day after day, this kept mounting. As time wore on, she didn't even come home most days. She'd just stay over at her friend's house.
Then one day, it started. I came home unannounced for lunch. I was greeted at the door by my 9-year old daughter. Her first words were, "Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom real bad, but mommy and her friend are back there and the door is locked." My 4-year old son chimed in saying he wanted to see his mommy. I went to the bedroom door, and sure enough it was locked. Not wanting to believe what was happening right before my eyes, I knocked on the door. Loudly. Nothing. I then went do my desk drawer and got a small screw driver and popped the lock. That was when I found them. Their general state of undress indicated to my angry mind that they had, in fact, been doing a bit more than just "sleeping together".
I let my daughter into the bathroom so that she could deal with her situation. About the time she was done, my wife had finally picked herself up a bit. Her friend had just simply rolled over for "modesty's sake". I stayed there for another twenty minutes or so, made a sandwich and ate it. I was so angry, I could have done some serious damage. However, God was there. Maybe it was like in "City of Angels", I had a spirit on my shoulder helping me to keep it together rather than hurting anyone. And, to my/their credit, nobody was physically hurt that day, nor any other day since then (thanks God).
I went back to work that afternoon, and rather than going in the building, I went to the top level of our parking garage and wept. I found myself pleading with God. "Why me Lord?" was the general gist of it all. This question, along with many others that I would ask over the next few days, weeks, and months are largely still unanswered. Some have come into focus. My wife, I've come to know, came into my life fresh from a lesbian breakup. She admitted to me later that most of what she was wanting out of our marriage wasn't my friendship or love but rather children. And that, God blessed us with. Three beautiful kids, two boys 2 & 4, one girl 9. In the end, as is commonly said, we simply grew apart.
No lasting physical harm was inflicted during this whole ordeal. But emotionally, ah, that's another story. To see my wife share her "personal space" with another in what was the bed that we conceived all three of our children, was to say the least heart breaking. I knew over the next few weeks that my wife, this woman that I'd lived with for eleven years, had three children with, was purposefully pushing me out of her life in favor of her friend. There has never been anything so painful done to me in all my days.
Well, it's now about seven months later. Shortly after this incident, I filed for divorce from my wife. To date, the paperwork isn't quite finished. But I am working through as much of it as I can for my sake and the sake of my children. But, being human, I do miss her presence. Even in the "bad" times towards the end, I was typically able to at least have her presence, if not her heart.
Walking up and down the isles at the store, it suddenly hit me. That was when I bought the pillow. I had not been able to sleep well most, if not all, of the intervening seven months. What I was missing was her presence. As anybody that has been married for any block of time will tell you, your body becomes accustomed to running into that of another in bed. During the night, as I lay tossing and turning in our bed, I realized that I missed having her soft warm bulk over on the other side of the bed. That's why when I saw the cover art on the body pillow that I bought, I had the sudden realization of what I was missing. Even though I couldn't really afford it just that moment, I bought it.
Don't get me wrong, I know the difference between a pillow and a person. I'm not so deluded that buying that pillow completely makes up for the lack of her presence in my bed. Nor am I likely to ever go the route of several others that I've heard of, read of, etc. that get an inflatable partner to stick between the sheets. I'm in no way that bad off.
On the other hand, I do sleep better now. Having a bulk between the sheets where she was for eleven years simply seems more comfortable. I look forward to the day that I again have hopes of having a person replace that pillow. However, for now, I'm back to having a fairly normal sleeping schedule. To my credit, I didn't just look around for hooker or someone of that ilk to fill that spot. The pillow will never give me some STD. The pillow will never have to be explained in too graphic a detail to my kids. And that pillow will never hurt me like my wife and her friend did.
So, if you find yourself with out your significant other, buy a pillow. Make it one of those big body pillows. In the long run it is better, cheaper, etc. than any of the more injurious options available in today's world. And maybe, just maybe, you'll sleep better also.
Written March, 2000.