I haven’t slept well lately. Maybe it’s because of the anticipation of what today meant, maybe it’s because of all the stress. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Whatever the reason, I’m tired more than usual and only want to crawl into bed until Monday (okay, let’s be honest, I’d stay in bed on Monday if I didn’t have to work). Last night was an especially sleepless night for a couple reasons- 1. I stayed at my parents’ and stayed up late to spend time with my mom and 2. all the noises that creep into their loft where I “slept” are magnified and strange to my ears, which are accustomed to less indoor noise and more muffled, distant city noises. I spent the night at my parents’ house, because a couple of the brotherhood from my church were meeting me there early this morning to move a bed frame across town to my place.
A bed frame. Heavy, solid wood, simple, beautiful. Four posts, light colored wood (I have no idea what kind of wood). It’s nothing like anything I would pick out for myself, yet here I sit with this bed frame set up in my bedroom, almost in tears, again. Over a bed frame.
The bed frame was my grandmother’s for the past 8 – 9 years (my mother corrected my intitial time of 17 – 18 years, because that’s what moms are for) and before this one, she owned a darker version of it that dates back before my childhood. Those two nearly identical frames – four posts, a shining, polished ball at the top of each post, high headboard, and heavy – are part of my grandmother. They’re part of every memory I have of her. Until a couple days ago, I didn’t know the frame of my memories was actually two, instead of one. So, for the sake of this post, it’s The Bed Frame. When my mom asked if I wanted it, I didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes.” Gramma had to move from her beautiful The Bed Frame to a hospital bed after a fall and it was going to sit unused in my parents’ garage. I said yes to a frame I hadn’t really ever consciously thought about, but has held me in a type of embrace the past 29 years I couldn’t explain until my mom and I talked last night. As we looked at The Bed Frame in the garage – the first time I’ve ever not seen it whole – I told her my longest kept secret. The tears flowed.
My earliest memory that doesn’t involve being terrified is sneaking into my Gramma’s bedroom, in her house just outside Detroit, while everyone was somewhere else, doing other things. It was the first time in my tiny life I hadn’t felt fear. Childhood was a living nightmare and we escaped. Somehow, by the grace of God Almighty, we escaped. I closed the door just enough to leave a ray of light glimpsing through the dark of her room. I didn’t want anyone to see me. And I stood at the foot of the bed and touched the left post. Hugged the post in my tiny, frail arms, reaching my hand to that shiny ball at the top of the post to caress it like someone would caress the cheek of someone deeply loved. My mom says I was four.
Throughout the years I would sneak into Gramma’s room and stand at the foot of the bed and touch that one post. Always the same post. As time passed and I grew, holding that post and running my fingers lightly over that ball became easier, but never less necessary. And it was necessary. As if I weren’t really there, safe, wanted, and belonging until I touched that post. Never with the light on, not unless I had been sent in there by Gramma herself to get something for her, and even those errands were a chance to delicately run my fingers over that post. Walking in there was like walking on hallowed ground. It was a peaceful place of comforting smells, quiet, darkness that didn’t hurt, and a bed that held my beloved Gramma who hugged me and laughed and played jokes on us with her false teeth and fed me salami, cheese, and mustard sandwiches and taught me to play Skip-Bo. In my little girl mind I didn’t know the word ‘sacred’. But I knew the feeling of peace and love and reverence and contentment and belonging. That post was a spot where I could stand and, for a moment, breathe deep of something pure. It was the spot where I touched the sacred for the first time. And I felt as if I belonged somewhere. I felt wanted. I felt sacred.
Tonight I will pull back the covers of my bed and slide into a piece of the sacred, a piece I now own.
And I think I may actually sleep.