He got up to pee. He didn’t want to get up, he wanted to sleep. Old age and time dictated that sleep would have to take a back seat to sleeping in a puddle of pee. His normal good nature crept back in as the picture of him laying in a puddle of pee settled into his mind. He chuckled.
It was dark. That didn’t matter. He had done that late night walk to the bathroom several times a night (and quite a few during the day too) for almost the entire decade since he retired. It was as natural to him now as forgetting where his glasses were. And just as annoying.
It was the middle of the night. He gently closed the door to their bedroom. His comings and goings never wakened her…but light, well that would often make her stir a bit. Sometimes even bringing her to the edge of wakefulness:
“Honey, you okay?’
A sleep worried voice would come from her side of the bed.
“I’m fine, Honey. It’s okay. I just had to pee. I love you.”
A moment later and he would hear her breathing slow down a bit…then that snore that was like white noise to him now. He would smile again. She thought she didn’t snore. Just him. That became his own secret - he would never tell her they both snored.
In the middle of the night, that snore often let him return to sleep the moment his head hit the pillow. It also made him reach over to her side of the bed, placing one of his vein ridden hands on top of her now plump hip. She would reach, even in her deepest sleep- to pat his hand. It wasn’t a conscious act anymore. It was a connection too deep for that.
It was the middle of the night- both of them reassuring the other with a touch, a few words, or the answer to: ”You Okay?” that they were together…and still alive. It was enough.
He made some tea. That brought yet another smile to a face that had smiled more than it had frowned for more than seventy years. When he was younger, tea, well tea would keep him awake. Now he would often sip a whole cup of tea while sitting in the dark - pee, and go back to bed. The whole time he was sipping the tea he would just listen to her snore, ride the waves of time back to their youth, or enjoy the quiet of the middle of the night.
Sometimes, she would wake up enough to go to the fridge to get water. He would watch her slip silently past him…thinking he was asleep in his recliner. Even half asleep, thirsty, and in the middle of the night, she cared about him. She wouldn’t want to disturb him, or wake him. As she passed by to return to the bedroom she would caress his foot lightly with one hand.
It was a ritual almost as old as their four plus decades of being together. He would whisper out into the darkness:
“I love you too.”
He didn’t need light to see the smile he knew that put on her face. He didn’t need his hearing aides in to hear the soft return:
“I love you, too.”
Sometimes, in the Middle of the night, the rain would pound against the roof. Both of them would have to pee at the same time. He liked those nights with the pounding rain and the mutual call of nature. For on those nights he would make tea for himself, hot chocolate for her and they would sit on their enclosed front porch and watch the rain fall.
Sometimes they would talk about the past. Sometimes the future. Sometimes about things they learned that day, or in the last week. Most times they just sat quietly sipping their drinks in the middle of the night. She would wear her Granny Pajamas that ground out any thought of sexuality but left her femininity intact. He would wear old boxer shorts and a robe missing the belt. He could care less that his lap was now occupied by a small rounded belly and not the flat stomach of youth.
It was the middle of the night, they were both old and gray, and the rain was making sure nobody was peeking onto their porch to comment on their aged bodies. If they were, well that thought made him smile too. So he told her about it. Her laugh was like wind chimes to him: delicate, sweet, flute like.
“A little chilly, Honey.”
“We better go in then. That lightening is a bit scary.”
Two hands then reached for each other. Another quiet habit as old as their marriage and even a few years before that. Even in the middle of the night that habit never failed them.
“Did you lock the door?”
It might have been two AM, or three, or even four AM…somewhere in the middle of the night, when they let go of each other’s hands. Him to crawl into his side of the bed. Her to crawl into hers. A momentary and ritual fight over the sheets and blankets brought a smile to both of them.
In the darkness, with a backdrop of snoring from both sides, a hand reached to rest on a plump hip. A soft warm wrinkled hand covered it to pat it with loving security.