Whenever Sean was away for work (which wasn’t often, but it happened sometimes), without any second thought I would always sleep on Sean’s side of the bed. It was a way to minimize his absence- somehow having an empty space on my right side felt better than Sean not being there on my left. When Sean died, my sister stayed with me for five weeks, graciously sleeping on Sean’s side of the bed for me. As soon as she left, that’s where I slept. And have since. Except for last night.
I was having a hard time falling asleep, even after my nightly mind-numbing routine of watching Jimmy Fallon before trying to sleep. A deeper sadness fell over me than usual, and as I tried to figure out why, I remembered that today marks three months that I’ve been living without Sean. I’ve been missing him increasingly, as I live more days without his arms and kindness and constant flow of ideas. Sean was such a dynamic person, supporting everyone in their endeavors and willing to challenge people to move outside of their realm of comfort. He was funny and a good listener. He loved foot massages and the color blue. He listened to the mundane details of my day and even matched my level of weirdness. On any given day, you could probably hear us singing The Lord of the Rings melody, the song from Neverending Story, or the intro to The Magic School Bus. Sean’s absence is no doubt a huge loss to our community, but it also leaves a gaping hole where my best friend used to be.
As I rolled over in an effort to get more comfortable, the thought popped into my head that I should move to ‘my’ side of the bed. I looked to my right at that forsaken half- I can reach over and touch it, but somehow had put it so far out of my life. The thought was persistent, so after thinking about it for a few moments I pushed my cat out of the way and slid over. I laid there, on my left side, looking at the empty space where Sean should be. I cried. And it felt right. I felt that some level of falseness had been removed- it was real and I wasn’t trying to mask the painful experience of sleeping in my bed by switching sides or watching TV.
And for a fleeting moment as I was laying in this reality, I knew God was crying with me.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to reconcile feeling deep pain and knowing God is with me. I KNOW God is with me, walking with me through this process. I experienced him when Sean was sick and going through treatments, and even when Sean died. I know God is there and taking care of me, so graciously putting people in my life to encourage me on my worst days. But often it’s hard for me to sit with God while I’m hurting. My mind rushes to tell me “Its ok, God is helping you. You don’t have to feel this way.” “Sean is with God, so it’s ok. You can move on now.”
But last night, God cried with me. And then I slept. On my side of the bed.