He spreads his papers across the dining room table, pushing the African violet and candles out of the way. All night he stands there, cutting pages of notes into snippets, organizing them by topic, by question.
If he types 20 pages by Saturday, we’ll drive the hour over ridges and down valleys with the dusty coal trucks, home for the Superbowl. Today, motivation runs strong.
The ferrets, worn out from running through tunnels and stashing plastic bags and standing up oh-so-cute when I say their name in case I have a treat, have settled back in the dark closet where we keep their cage.
Alaska snores a bit, a soft, whistling sound. Their furry bodies are so entwined that it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.
And I’ve done the dishes and ground tomorrow’s coffee and the yellow flowers he bought me last week are bright still on the kitchen counter.
The sun peeked out at sunset; I think, perhaps, it will be sunny to start the week.
And so I curl on the coach to read Chesterton’s “Father Brown” stories and my hot chocolate isn’t so hot because the microwave took too long and there are no marshmallows (I ate them plain last week. I knew I would regret it, but I ate them anyway, one by one. I always do.)
The clock ticks loudly.
Sometimes he stops to talk, but mostly it’s quiet. I can hear his papers sliding across the table; hear the furnace rattle to life and the soft whoosh of flames igniting; hear Alaska sneeze in the closet.
My own turning of pages is loud.
I promised to rest, after a Saturday night shift saw me driving slowly home just before 3 a.m. I struggled to stay awake in church, watched my hand shake with exhaustion when I tried to eat, slept for long hours into the afternoon.
When afternoon slipped into evening and turned to night I sat on the wine-colored rug on the living room floor with ferrets, or curled on the couch with Chesterton, and let myself forget deadlines and board meetings and new online initiatives that keep me awake at night.
Tomorrow, I thought, will worry about itself.
And now it is tomorrow, and there was frost on the inside of the windshield and the meteorologist said it was just one degree at 7. The sun rose pink this morning but snow returns this afternoon and I’m glad for the light but oddly look forward to the snow because it will bring the temperature up.
All the way to 33 on Tuesday.
But the rest from the afternoon hangs on and I’ve done more in the first hours of Monday than I did all day Friday and I’m reminded that sleep is precious, but it’s not the only way to rest.
Sometimes it’s quiet and books and chubby ferrets and sitting in the same room as the person with whom your own soul is so intertwined you can hardly tell where his ends and yours begins.
Sometimes that is the rest you need.