Our winter quilt is a mammoth blanket that we sleep under like two larvae inside a cocoon. It is a colossal feat to clean. I flick and sweep and vacuum to keep the dirt at bay. When it is time to finally wash, then and only then, do I stuff and jam and pack and squeeze it into the washer, running it through the super cycle, and then drying for no less than three hours.
This past Thursday in the middle of the night, I am lying inside the cocoon sound asleep, cozy and warm, when I hear a gagging noise from the dog lying closest to me. Because our dogs eat anything and everything out in the yard, upset stomachs occur with some regularity. I must act quickly to save the cocoon from an obligatory wash.
I move my arm toward the lamp but it is caught inside the blanket. I wiggle my body upwards, tossing my arm side to side finally freeing it, and then flinging it toward the lamp, catching my right eye with a lopsided hook. I fight back a yelp of pain, now cupping my eye with my hand and reaching for the lamp with my left.
Just as I find the switch on the light, the dog erupts. I might be able to save the quilt from washing if I hurry. I can only see out of one eye and I run straight into the dresser at full force ramming my left knee into the sharp corner. “OWWWW!!” I cried, still mindful that Jeff is sleeping but now not caring. The dogs jump off the bed to get away from the vomit and begin to bark along with me. Apparently, we are having some sort of bonding moment and it is turning into a fairly entertaining party.
I hobble into the kitchen, my left knee still sharp with pain, my right eye now swelling and tears running down my face. I grab a handful of paper towels along with a plastic bag and hobble back into the bedroom. A gassy smell hits my nose telling me the cocoon must be washed. I begin to dab at the vomit, getting the bulk of it into the bag before stripping the bed.
I say to Jeff, “I’m sorry hon, the dog threw up.” Keeping my one eye on the task, I waited for a response from Jeff. Surely he was awake from the light in the room, from my cry of pain, from the barking dogs and from the putrid smell that permeated the air. I look up and there he is still dead to the world, oblivious to what is happening. I begin to clean the blanket more vigorously, shaking the bed in frustration, talking a bit too loudly to the dogs.
I hobbled back into the kitchen, threw away the plastic bag, and washed my hands. I hobbled to the linen closet to retrieve the summer quilt and the myriad of blankets now needed to replace the winter spread. Then I hobbled back into the bedroom. Jeff is deep in slumber.
I begin to remove the massive blanket, tugging and pulling, wrestling with this heavy tarp. Jeff lays there encased and unmovable. I shake his leg, “Hon, I have to take off the blanket. The dog threw up.”
“Whaa?” Jeff barely opens his eyes.
“I’m changing the blanket, the dog threw up.”
“Aah kay.” And he falls back to sleep.
I continue to grapple the blanket now mad at Jeff, mad at the dog, mad at the dresser and mad at the world. Finally, after tugging and pulling and grunting and cursing I get the winter spread free from the bed and onto the floor. I hobble around and layer the bed with the summer quilt and additional blankets, then drag the winter spread to the top of the wash machine.
Back in bed, with the light turned out and the dogs slumbering in their places, my eye is swollen and burning; my knee is tender and bruised. Jeff softly snores as I lie awake in the middle of the night.
Later that morning, I begin the process of stuffing and squashing and cajoling the cocoon into the washer.
Jeff comes up to me placing his hands on either side of my shoulders. He says, “Look at me.”
Haggard from lack of sleep, with my swollen right eye and teary left, I give him my best level gaze. I can tell that this will be one of those moments that make a marriage, those soul bending heartfelt times of connection and love. I wait for it.
“Pamo,” he said. “You’ve got to start taking better care of yourself.” With that he double taps my shoulders in a friendly gesture and turns to walk away with the stride of a man who is thinking, “I’ve done my job here. Let the day begin.”
With my face contorting into an astounded grin, I think, “That’s what he came up with?” I look down to my left and through my blurry vision I see the dog smiling up at me, mulch sticking out from her mouth and fresh morning dirt dripping off her nose.