When he came to bed last night, I was already conked out and dead to the world.
Here is Gabe’s story:
Well after Jen tucks into bed, I am usually scurrying about the apartment with little household upkeep matters and my post-braces tooth-care regimen. I light a small candle in the bedroom to give Jen the benefit of the dark. That and my cell phone light suffice to illuminate my own tucking in. Most of the time, Jen is still more awake than asleep when I arrive into bed, and she rolls towards me as I lie down, bestowing upon me the final embrace of the day.
Last night was different. Jen was fully asleep when I crawled in, and her head was propped well forward with a stack of pillows, while her every breath was shuddering with a most distressing snore. This was not a mere rumbling with the inhale and exhale. It was a laboring pull of air, ending each time with an abrupt, strangled pinch of her wind. I have heard of the health risks of snoring, and this sounded like the dramatization one would expect from an infomercial for some as-seen-on-tv remedy.
I knew Jen was suffering with allergy congestion, which surely was aggravating her oblivious struggle for breath. I also knew that even a small prompt could cause a sleeper to adjust out of a snoring posture. I pushed down the pillow on the right side of her head. The snoring abated somewhat. I slipped under the sheets. The loud and labored version of the snoring soon returned. I pushed on the pillow again, and again there was some respite, but the fearsome noise returned once more. I moved a pillow at the top of her head and her head leaned back a small increment. This provided her the best relief yet for a little while, but the desperate roar came back yet again.
It was so bad that I felt sure it would wake her of its own force, or oblige her body to involuntarily shift. Amidst the respiratory thunder, I concentrated on a game of solitaire mah jong glowing on my smartphone screen, waiting for the inevitable. The storm continued on. Now I laid my arm across my beloved’s shoulders, and made some pushes and pulls as subtly as I could, trying to induce a roll without waking her. The snoring stopped abruptly, she made an indistinct vocalization, and she lifted up and shifted her weight to one side with a coordination that I was certain meant that she had at least partially awakened. But she was immediately still and relaxed in a manner that indicated full sleep. The snoring did not return before I was asleep myself. Perhaps we drifted off together into a quiet rest. Or perhaps we roared in unison for the remainder of the night. The snore is an aspect of oneself that can only be known through others.