My husband left for a four day business trip today. That always makes me feel reflective and anxious — I imagine him not coming home, that some terrible destiny awaits him in Oklahoma or Nevada or Minnesota or wherever his travels take him. I imagine life without him, how empty and sad and terribly, terribly alone I would feel. I imagine our sons growing up without their father, that greatest sort of man who knows how to parent a child.
Then I shake myself out of it, get the kiddos some breakfast and start thinking about the day, the week ahead. As I pulled the blankets back this morning, I saw this:
Our wedding sheets are toast. Done. Finito, which is accurate, as they are Italian sheets, a gift from my sister on our wedding. They were fine and fancy sheets — much fancier than I ever would have splurged on for myself. I am straddled with too much practicality to fully enjoy luxurious things. I’m a little bit like my Mom. When she was gifted something really nice, it would somehow find its way onto a shelf in the linen closet. Too fancy for her to use in everyday life. Ugh. I never understood that as a kid and to know that I am like that as an adult makes me a wee bit sad. So, yes, those fine and fancy sheets made their way onto a shelf in my linen closet.
Maybe two or three years into our marriage I pulled them out. I don’t even remember why. I think I had grown weary of the lavender sandpaper sheets we had registered for at the Bed Bath & Beyond. Certainly, thank goodness, our color scheme had changed. Well, I washed those bright white sheets and put them on our bed, not thinking too much about it until bedtime. Then, well, KABLAMMO!
Sleeping on those fine Italian sheets was like nothing I had ever experienced. They were divine. Cool and silky, slippery almost. The simile I used at the time was Cool Whip, cause that’s what they reminded me of, though a lot less sticky and pumped with chemicals.
How had cotton never felt this way before, I wondered.
We have used the hell out of those sheets, clearly. The days it was time to take them off and throw in the wash I would sigh and the days they reappeared on the bed with the next wash cycle I would cheer, knowing I would sleep very well that night. Those sheets never lost their Cool Whip feeling and only got softer with each washing. A perfect weave of softness and generosity, as they always reminded me of my sister.
When they thinned a bit too much, I went sheet shopping. I think I opted for JLO sheets from Kohl’s. My sister would be ashamed of me. Those sheets have been perfectly servicable, certainly better than the lavender sandpaper, but never quite the same. Then there were the chocolate brown sheets I bought to match the wall when we painted it.
Slowly, those lovely Italian wedding sheets dropped out of rotation.
A few weeks ago, the last time the sheets were changed (don’t judge), I noticed they were back. I asked my husband and he said he could’t find the other sheets. Yep, somehow they never found their way upstairs after the last wash (again, don’t judge). I was so happy to see those wedding sheets — it had been a while. It was like meeting an old friend for a drink. I noticed a small hole near where my foot would be and my husband reminded me that hole had been there a while. I had forgotten.
Well, a few weeks later again and now that small hole has morphed into irreparable damage. Those sheets are gone. Done. Finito. I shot the photo of them this morning in the midst of my reflective/anxious, “My husband is leaving and I might never see him again!” moment. I told him what I was doing and that I was going to write a blog post about the wedding sheets. I patted myself on the back for capturing the massive tear, but not the period stains about ten inches north. “Be grateful I’m not putting my period stains in the photo — who wants to see those?,” I asked rhetorically. “Some dude on the Internet,” my husband answered factually.
And we laughed.
My wedding sheets are gone, but my marriage remains. A lot of marriages don’t make it past the tears in the sheets. We’ve been lucky. Luckier still when you see the stats for marriages that have crashed after the death of a child. We love and we laugh and we comfort and we worry and we support together.
I will miss those sheets, and for the next few days I will miss my husband. When he comes home, there will be fresh sheets on the bed. Not as lovely, not as luxurious, not as Cool Whippy, but clean and sturdy. And that’s okay. Those sheets were wonderful to us and I thoroughly enjoyed them, and while they may have ensured we will never be okay with sleeping on sandpaper sheets again, we will probably, too, never sleep on Cool Whip luxury sheets either.
Most likely, we’ll be somewhere in the middle of comfort and luxury, together.