My husband died in our bedroom one grey January day. I found James there, stone cold, hours after he died.
That night, I slept in the spare room as I was unable to face being in our bed. However, I couldn’t continue the practice because friends and relatives were pouring in to stay for the funeral from as far away as Australia and France. I had to get a grip and quickly.
My daughter and son-in-law put the bed linen in the laundry for me and removed his bathrobe. Friends made up the bed. I took a deep breath on day three when all the other beds were taken and walked upstairs to bed for the first time — it still smelled of James.
There was nothing for it but to climb into bed. I did it but hated it.
I struggled and slept badly for over a week until everyone left, when I returned to the spare room. Was I going to be able to stay in my lovely home? Should I sleep forever in a different room? Were the demons here to stay? What to do? The issue loomed large and needed urgent attention.
As always with a major problem, I went for a long walk to figure out what I was going to do about “the bedroom demons.”
After a mile of walking, I had my problem under control, and another mile gave me the answers. I would gut the bedroom and recreate it as a retreat for me.
A few individuals told me that I should keep the room as it was to remember James more readily. No, thank you. I knew myself better than they did. I didn’t want to make our bedroom a shrine to remind me of his death. I wanted to remember my husband alive.
So I threw out all the furniture and repainted the walls. The colours I chose were a pale dove grey with white accents — soothing and peaceful. I changed the artwork for my favourite, subtle water-colours and bought a new bed, mattress, and headboard. Next came gorgeous bed linens in cheerful colours, white furniture, and ultra-modern lamps.
Once done, the bedroom was unrecognizable and definitely mine. The demons were banished, never to return. I slept again.
© Julie H. Ferguson 2017
Vancouver-based Julie H. Ferguson is an addicted traveler who is intensely interested in the history and culture of foreign lands, as well as Canada, and her stories and images reflect this focus. Julie never leaves home without her cameras and voice recorder, always looking for the colour and sounds that captivate readers everywhere.
A non-fiction writer for forty-five years and an avid photographer, Julie is also the author of twenty-six books, including four about Canadian naval and church history, six for writers, and sixteen photo portfolios. Her articles have appeared in national and international markets, both print and online, and her images have been exhibited, published, and sold.