Of Bears & Sleepless Nights

After Sam died, I had no intention of getting married again. Ever. Initially, I was too wounded, too angry, too afraid of being vulnerable enough to risk the heartbreak again. And just plain too tired.

Gradually I realized I was truly grateful for having experienced a loving marriage. Mine ended too soon, but I had known what it was to be loved for who I am. Some people spend their whole lives without knowing that kind of love. Still, I did not want to experience that kind of heartbreak again, and I didn’t need someone to take care of me or my sons. In fact, one of my cousins told me I was a better parent by myself than he and his wife were together. I’m not sure that’s true, although nice to hear, and it strengthened my resolve to run the single parent race.

The mother bear and her cubs were going to be just fine, thank you very much. Even if it meant camping.

I had accompanied my sons on more than a few camping trips. Even for those moms who are actively involved in the scouting experience, many choose not to participate in the actual overnight camping if they can instead pawn the wilderness expedition off on a spouse. Since dad was no longer an option, I made these trips myself. My son loves to tell of a particular overnight when his mother set up our tent in a flat, protected spot, while all the dads set up tents directly downwind from the campfire. My Eagle Scout father was proud, too.

On another adventure in the Angeles Forest, we had sighted a brown bear earlier in the day across the lake. Late that night, in the cold and dark, my son woke up and scooched his sleeping bag closer to me. He whispered urgently, “Mommy, I hear a bear.” I nestled him close, because the bear-like gruntings and growlings had, in fact, kept me awake most of the night myself, but not because they were particularly threatening. “Don’t worry, sweetie. That’s just Mr. Reyes snoring. And Mr. Smith. And Mr. Jefferson.” They were quite the trio.

We giggled and snuggled, and he settled back to sleep. His breathing relaxed into a soft, rhythmic pattern, and for the first time since my husband’s death, I felt sorry for those poor women, happily married to these kind, but extremely loud, men. I began to gravitate contentedly toward being single.

I’m not quite sure how I found my way to where I am now. A lot of sleepless nights, a prescription for Xanax, many a tear-filled coffee with a friend, a good therapist, a dash of faith and one handsome man later, I am happily married with four sons. A friend asked me recently if there was a difference the second marriage around, and I think the answer has to be yes. I cannot quite remember who or how I was before Sam’s suicide. My experience of his death has changed me forever, mostly in good ways, if you don’t count the slight neuroses.

In any event, I don’t know how patient or peevish I might have been if Sam snored. I do know that I have a renewed appreciation for how precious life is and how everything can change overnight. My Tim snores like crazy, but the noise rarely disturbs me. It’s true that I’m a fairly sound sleeper. But on the occasions when his snoring wakes me, I am not bothered. I am comforted. When I hear him snoring, I also hear, “He’s here. He’s breathing. He’s with me. We are together. I’m not alone.” I am genuinely grateful.

And he takes the boys camping. I love that about Tim.

This year when they returned from their annual summer camping weekend in the Sierras, the first thing our youngest son said was “Mom, I don’t know how you sleep next to him. He snores so loud!”

I smile, I snuggle close, and I settle back to sleep.

***

Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And a restful night.

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