Rob Petrie had it made.
He had the love and adoration of the beautiful Laura. He had a fine young son. He had a fulfilling job where he worked in a humorous family atmosphere and neighbors who were his closest friends. You know what else he had? A good night’s sleep! He got a good night’s sleep because he and Laura had separate beds. Can you imagine it? I can. You see, I’m not one for snuggling.
I blame the fact that I get too hot. But really, I just like to be on my own. I think I’ve always been that way. I don’t recall a time when I just felt an overwhelming urge to cuddle. Oh sure, we were honeymooners at one point, way back in the early 90’s… when I was young. I am sure I snuggled then. But like any guy, If I were honest I would admit to an ulterior motive.
All of my daughters are snugglers and when they were young, somewhere between one and four of them would appear in our king-sized bed during the night. When we had daughter 1, Mommy would bring her in to get some sleep after a late night feeding. Who was I to stop them? I was of no use at feeding time. Besides, I was comfortably asleep on my side of the bed. My desire to be separate was used against me because I didn’t notice the intrusion.
Daughter number 2 had a doll bed on wheels that stayed beside her. Whenever she woke up, she would push the loaded bed down the hall. Even the canopy was laden with dolls because evidently dolls are like soldiers – no doll gets left behind. Daughter number 3 didn’t have a bedroom until she was a year old, so she started the night in a cradle at the foot of our bed and always seemed to join our merry band.
And number 4, well Kylie was the chief of all snugglers. As the baby, she never lacked someone to snuggle. I even snuggled her sometimes because she just fit.
When she got sick, we all snuggled her any chance we got – no one more than mommy. As her caretaker, mommy snuggled her in the hospital and at home. They read together, knitted together, watched television together, and just sat together – most of the time arm in arm. The one time Kylie preferred someone other than mommy was when she wanted to play video games, because mommy stinks at those. We all encouraged gaming to steal an opportunity.
Pretty much the only way to get kicked out of bed with Kylie was to sniff her bald head. Although it smelled like heaven on earth, it ticked her off for someone to smell it.
I miss those snuggles.
* * * * * *
After she died, a friend with the same unfortunate experience told me I would hear her voice someday. It didn’t take long. I heard it soon after the funeral and it was as clear as a bell.
“Snuggle Mommy,” she told me.
“Huh?” I tried to argue, “I don’t like to snuggle! I miss you. Forget about snuggling, let’s talk a while.”
She had but one message. I could almost picture pursed lips and a cocked head as she repeated it slowly so it would sink into my thick skull, “Snuggle Mommy!”
I wanted more, but she was gone. Her image and voice faded away.
I knew she was right, though. Mommy needs snuggling. Since Kylie died, mommy had taken to snuggling Buttercup, Kylie’s big chemo bunny. Ten months of a constant companion leaves many unexpected voids. Mommy needs snuggling.
And so, in the past two months I have snuggled like I’ve never snuggled before. I’m trying. While I miss my aloneness, I have noticed that when you bunch together, the covers don’t get pulled off as much. It is weird not being on my side of the bed, but life is weird right now anyway so what’s a little more weirdness. Also strange is snuggling without that old ulterior motive.
Okay, I admit there will always be a glimmer of hope… I’m still a guy, after all. But hey, it isn’t the main reason.