It was a busy day. A physical therapy evaluator came and asked a lot of questions while J dozed off in his wheelchair. The hospital bed was delivered and assembled. And a home health aide, part of the post-hospital team, came over to bathe him and help me transfer him to the hospital bed. She could only stay for an hour. This is the penumbra of a hospital stay: for a while, at least, you're not alone.
In the midst of all this a major milestone has quietly passed: J and I will no longer be sleeping in the same bed. For me this is a big step back, a first distance, although for some time he has no longer known or cared if I was in the bed with him, only whether he was undisturbed and comfortable. Being touched, other than briefly, registers more as a disturbance than a comfort at this point.
It's not what you might think. Our love life wasn't the main thing between us, was even often a battlefield for other conflicts and resentments. But he was great to sleep with, literally. I once wrote a poem/paean to that that ended, "My sleeping chair, in which to fly through heaven." My animal connection to and dependence on him had its home right there, in sleeping together. If we were apart, I'd describe being in bed alone as feeling "like an egg on a table." For some time I've known he had become indifferent to that, that he has at best tolerated my warming myself by him as a distant commotion at the borders of his solipsism. So moving to another bed, like moving to another house on the way to divorce, is only the summing up of a separation that has already happened.
The other thing it inadvertently reminds me of is . . . after his mother died holding our hands, after the intimacies of washing and dressing her, tying her jaw closed, combing her hair, folding her hands, they placed her in an open coffin and then, according to custom, veiled it. They placed a transparent scrim over her that created a step back, a first, transitional distance.