Since he has to get up much earlier than I do every workday morning--so he can catch the shuttle to the West Coast Express that gets him to downtown Vancouver in just fifty minutes--in order to get an adequate amount of sleep, he has to be in bed by about ten, as many as two hours earlier than I go to bed.
At the appointed time, I walk into his room, get his bed ready, and wait for him to crawl in. Sheet up to his neck, he's ready to go to sleep. I see the fatigue from a long day in his face, and I know I mustn't linger long, but I can't leave, not yet--not before I sit on the edge of the bed, lean over him, and dip both of my arms under his pillow. Leaning even lower, I scoop up his head, and I nuzzle the side of his face.
For a few moments, my cheek is against the left side of his head. I feel the softness of the skin on his temple and of his cheek that's freshly shaven. He lays there quietly, letting me embrace him fully; kiss the short, soft hairs at his hairline; take in the sweet scent that is unmistakably his. I continue to nuzzle him for several more seconds, trying to lengthen our time together, his entire being reduced to the head I have completely cradled in my arms, not unlike picking up a cherished pet and inflicting a loving gesture on, whether appreciated or not.
Then, I softly put his pillow and his head back down. He stirs, becoming even more a part of the bed, looking more tired than before. Has my embrace relaxed him, made him even more ready to go to sleep?
I tell him, softly, "Have a good night" and "Have a good day at work tomorrow," since I won't see him before he leaves. He wishes me the same. I reach for the switch on the night table lamp beside his bed, and I turn it--once, the light becoming dimmer, bathing the room and Chris's handsome face in a soft golden glow. Then, a second time, descending the room into darkness. I see nothing then. Everything in the room has disappeared, including Chris. For all I know, I'm alone.
Except...except I reach out for Chris in the dark. Our fingers touch, intermingle with each other, flutter together, a gesture he started many years ago that we continue to this day. It's one of the many small things that endears him to me. It's the last time we'll touch each other until past six o'clock the following evening, when, presumably, the train will return him home safely.
I wish him a good night one more time, and then I grope my way out of his room, being sure not to hit my leg against the end of his wooden bed. Then I walk to the door and close it quietly behind me.
It's a ritual that plays itself out every night, even on weekends, even when Chris is able to go to bed a little later than usual. And I never tire of it. In some ways, I feel closer to him then than at any other time. In that moment, there's just him and me in the bedroom. Nothing else of the world matters. The intimacy of the movements, gestures, and wishes stun me with clarity, with the beauty of what we share, with the love we feel for each other. At that moment, I couldn't be more filled with gratitude for the utter blessing of that human being in my life.
Good night, Sweetheart. I love you so much.