Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tossing and Turning When Gilda's Away

My wife left me last Tuesday. 

Oh, it is not what you think. 

With Donny staying in New York for business, Gilda accompanied Ellie, CJ and Leo back to Omaha. She will be coming home today.  

Being able to help care for our grandchildren is one of the benefits she is reaping in retirement, the freedom to travel on her own schedule, for pleasure or to help out. 

I’m not embarrassed to admit I have had a hard time sleeping when she’s not lying next to me. During my career I often traveled days at a time. Frequently five days a month away from home. 

As publisher and editor I could assign others to travel with me. Ostensibly to help train or support a staffer, it camouflaged a perq of my office to keep me from being alone on the road. It worked during the daytime and through a good dinner but when my hotel room door closed behind me I could not escape the loneliness of being away from home, from Gilda. 

Her trip to Omaha brought the experience back, but in reverse. In my hotel room after dinner I would turn on the TV. I’d be exhausted but unable to fall into deep sleep. I’d set the TV timer only to be awakened from light slumber when it clicked off around 12:30. I couldn’t control the air quality in the room. The room would be stuffy. The pillows were not to my liking. I’d stumble across to the bathroom once or twice. I’d turn the TV back on and for hours watch a bad movie or some silly sitcoms. 

My TV options are better now. I can scroll through hundreds of cable stations with scores of movies. The first night Gilda was gone I watched a West Coast Yankees game and two episodes of Veep before finally closing my eyes for several hours. 

When Gilda’s home we usually go to sleep around 11:30. I wake up around 8. This past week sleep has not come till nearly 2 and has not lasted past 7:30. This blog, for example, was written about 1:30 am, a half hour after I woke up from sleep initiated at the start of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I woke up at 7:07.

For all my complaints, the truth is I believe a partner’s independent short-term travel is healthy for any relationship. Time away allows both partners to more fully appreciate each other. To recharge the excitement of being together. 

I could never have sustained the life of a traveling salesman or similar profession that required extended overnight travel most weeks of the year. 

As much as I “suffered” through this past week, my experience is not comparable to what Gilda went through when I traveled. She was left to care for our children, to feed and, when they were younger, clothe them. To make sure they went off safely to school and back. For most of those years she also had a full-time job. And if it snowed—it always seemed to snow when I was away during the winter—she had to shovel the driveway. No, my seven nights tossing and turning cannot be compared to her years of underappreciated dedication.

There’s no guarantee my sleep tonight will be better with Gilda lying next to me. But hearing her breathing, being able to reach out and touch her arm in the middle of the night, relying on her body heat instead of the heated mattress pad to warm our bed, signals a return to normalcy. To a contentment appreciated for sure by anyone in a lifetime partner relationship. 

Her plane is scheduled to land at Newark airport at 4:30 pm. I’ll be there.