Any time I leave the house I kiss the family goodbye. I have never liked saying goodbye while angry, but the day I was given a bulletproof vest as part of my work uniform I vowed to never have any “bad goodbyes.”
Based on the hours I’m leaving the house, I do more than my fair share of saying goodbye while they are still sleeping.
When I lean down and say, “I love you,” both of my kids will say “I love you, too.” “I love you, too” is not an unusual response to “I love you,” but what I find so fascinating about it is they will say “I love you, too” without really even waking up.
I have done a lot of things wrong during their lifetime, but I know both of my children are conditioned to say “I love you, too” without fully waking up.
I am not conditioned that way. I have much less faith in humanity. If something wakes me up, I am seeing just how quickly I can eliminate whatever it is.
I don’t know how my wife is conditioned to respond when she is awakened. Truth be told, I have never had to wake her up to tell her goodbye because I could never successfully leave the house without her being awake and helping me find one thing or another.
I’m not even certain she sleeps. She has a pillow, but I can’t confirm she has ever had to buy a replacement pillow.
Several years ago, when my son was much younger and I was much more dumb and selfish, I was gone more than I should have been.
I remember falling asleep on the living room sofa one night and him falling asleep on the floor right beside the sofa.
I think he fell asleep there because he wanted to know if I got up to leave. There is no way I could have gotten off the sofa without tripping over him. That’s one of those memories that is burned in my brain no matter how badly I wish it wasn’t.
He forgave me for that phase of my life long before I ever forgave myself, assuming I have forgiven myself at all.
That’s the joy of family. They will forgive you. They will forget about it. And they will be so sound in their sleep, and in their knowledge of your love for them, that they don’t even have to be fully awake to know that you are there beside them and you are there with love.
I hope they always sleep so soundly. I hope they always know they are loved.
And I hope they can one day answer the question as to whether or not their mother does indeed sleep, because I don’t think I will ever be able to.
Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org