In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Earlier this year, Rebecca’s husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns, she writes about the aftermath of his accident


One of the countless reasons that Nick and I have always got on so well is that we are sleep soulmates. In our house, lying in is in all ways superior to getting up. Sundays in bed are a fantastic way to spend 24 hours, rather than a waste of a day. If either of us is feeling weak from a tough day at work or dying from the wounds of a hangover, an early night with curry in bed is a sure-fire cure.

Get-up-and-go types might label us as lazy, but the key thing is that we march to the same somnolent beat. We’ve both had past relationships where sleep cycles were out of whack, where one partner would be up with the lark to do endless useful things, or where they’d been trained by the working week to wake up at 7am sharp even at the weekend. While I wouldn’t suggest that these liaisons foundered solely on the rocks of one person leaping out of bed earlier hours than the other, I reckon that it has to have been a contributing factor.

Our bed, inspired by a particularly fine super king-size hotel number that was more Great Bed of Ware than double, is one of the best things that Nick and I have ever bought. Oh, and a feather-filled mattress topper. And six pillows. It is one of my favourite places in the world. Nick’s too. Which makes it incredibly difficult when he begs me to come home so that he can lie in our bed to recover. “I’ll be awfully quiet,” he says, imploringly. “I’ll get better there much more quickly.” Alas, the three nurses needed to look after him might make our bedroom less of a haven than he imagines, even if it won’t be quite as noisy as the ward in which he now fitfully dozes.

Having slept alone on a mattress designed for two for half a year, I long for him to be lying next to me, too. It’s lucky that we have so many cuddly animals – it means that the bed doesn’t feel quite so wide, and there’s always something to hold in the dark hours before dawn when the cat has jumped on my head and left me awake with my boiling thoughts.

Awake was one thing that Nick wasn’t when I saw him most recently. As I approached his hospital bed, his eyes were shut, his face peaceful and relaxed. He looked like an impossibly handsome knight carved in stone in a timeless country church. His mouth was slightly curled up at the edges, and I wondered if he was dreaming, as I do, of him being at home, being able to move around and looking back on this time as something unfortunate rather than something catastrophic.

Unfortunately, as I was visiting with my stepdaughter and my little sister Lucy, who was desperate to say hello and take him to Costa coffee for a cake, I had to commit a crime against one of the tenets of our marriage – I had to poke him awake. I was no longer his sleep soulmate but his very unwelcome alarm clock.

In Sickness and in Health: It’s not easy to leave, but it means I’ll be coming back
In Sickness and in Health: Listening to my husband swear again is music to my ears  

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