Mostly I’m a contented sleeper; I fall asleep easily at night and wake happily enough in the morning. But sometimes – this morning for instance – I wake with a faint shadow of unease, apprehension, something that makes my breath catch and my heart sink a little into my stomach.
When I open my eyes, I know what this feeling is. I see an empty space beside me. I see smooth sheets and pillow; lacking the creases and hollow made by my partner’s head.
I’ve woken up alone twenty out of the last thirty mornings and I will wake up alone for the next eight too. Then my partner of twenty five years will be home – for a while. Maybe a week or two, perhaps more.
He travels because his job requires him to. Although this last month has been worse than most, he still spends about a third of the year sleeping in other beds in other countries –places where I am not.
It’s been like this for a long time. Early in our relationship I travelled – though not nearly as often or for such long periods as he does now. But since our son was a toddler, my partner’s job has taken him away from us so much that I think our son’s school believes the child is being raised by a single parent.
Mostly I don’t think too much about this. I’m accustomed to friends and family opening conversations with “where is he this week?” or “is he in the country at the moment?” I’ve even got used to our son asking the same question. Continue reading