The Silent Companion
It’s the same thing every morning. I sit on the edge of the bed and watch her sleep. She looks so peaceful, wrapped in the warm comfort of that tattered old duvet. I’ve told her a hundred times that we need to buy a new one. It’s just not hygienic sleeping under the same never-been-washed duvet every night. But it has sentimental value and she can’t bear to part with it. Our eldest daughter bought it as a present for our twenty-first wedding anniversary. She told us she had chosen a duvet because it was a symbol of marriage; the one thing we would share together every night. But really, it was just that they were on special offer in the only shop still open ten minutes before our anniversary party. Still, Rose had been suitably touched by the gesture, and the romantic explanation given by our firstborn had always prevented us from throwing it away.
As soon as the alarm goes off, Rose’s eyes are open. She scans the room, her big green eyes searching for the source of the irritating noise that dragged her from her dream. She spots the alarm clock and groans, reaching over to turn it off, before sinking slowly back under the duvet. Time has been kind to her; she has an innocence about her that has helped her to remain looking young. I smile as I watch her contented face, clearly still in a dream state. Then it starts. Reality must be invading her dreams and she is waking up. Her smile fades as her forehead tightens, and suddenly she looks twenty years older. She opens her eyes, looking up to the ceiling, and I see the tears starting to form. She slowly drags the duvet over her head and curls into a ball beneath it. The tattered mound starts to shake as she sobs uncontrollably. It hurts me to see her this way. I want to do something to take it all away, but I know she has to get through this on her own. People had tried to support and comfort her at the funeral, but they don’t understand her like I do. She needs to be alone. I leave the room to allow her some privacy in her grief.
Almost two hours later she finally struts into the kitchen. This is my favourite part of the day. This is where she looks like the old Rose. Freshly showered and dressed, hair done to perfection, make-up immaculately covering those dark circles under her eyes. This is my Rose. She never leaves the house looking anything less than perfect. One day it won’t just be a mask she paints on for the outside world. One day she will be the real Rose again. But for now, she deals with her grief by keeping it hidden. Nobody outside of these four walls would ever know how much she misses me.