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Double Helix

It’s a new year and most everything is new for me with Wade’s sudden death on December 31st. One minute we were nursing the pain in his neck and shoulder; then in the next few minutes, he was gone.

I am writing this on my 28th day without him. I think I will be counting days for quite a while. There will be a book about all of this. However, my inner voice said write this post, now.

Wade's passing is the catalyst, my granddaughter, Nora, the inspiration.

On day 23, I slept overnight with her so my daughter could leave early for a meeting at work the next day. I would get Nora ready for school in the morning.

Double helix is the description of the structure of a DNA molecule. A DNA molecule consists of two strands that wind around each other like a twisted ladder.

My treat was sleeping with Nora in her mom’s bed; also a treat for Nora who really hates to sleep alone. She sees no reason why she should, questioning us all the time. “Not enough room in the bed,” is one response we offer. That aside, it is difficult to explain to a 10-year old.

This would not be the first time we shared a bed. In ten years, there had been many times. The most recent was this past Christmas, when Wade was in Florida comforting his recently widowed mother. During that week, Nora stayed with me for two nights, especially excited because in Wade’s absence, she was allowed to sleep with me in our bed.

I always feel an uncommon joy when sleeping with Nora—it comes from a deep gratitude for her health, beauty and peacefulness. I once saw a meme on Facebook that read, “Waking up next to your granddaughter is like waking up on Christmas morning.”

Nora misses Wade. They were quite a pair. In the year before he passed, she called him almost every day. Now, she worries in a 10-year-old way about me being alone, sleeping alone, which makes these times even more precious for us both.

Like most times, we climb into bed, click on a recording of her favorite TV show, and I lightly scratch her back. I do it as much for her pleasure as for the deliciousness of skin-to-skin contact I need.

Soon, ready for sleep, TV extinguished, she asks if we can snuggle. Nora is a snuggler. So am I. Of the so many things I miss about Wade, physical contact is at the top of the list. I am kinesthetic. (Definition: Relating to a person's awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs (proprioceptors) in the muscles and joints)

Nora is laying to my left, which is her best snuggle side. I stretch out my left arm—she slides her head onto my shoulder. Turning towards me, she puts the length of her body against mine. I bend the elbow of my left arm in order to rest my hand lightly on the top of her head, my right arm comes around to rest at her waist. For the final adjustment, she throws her left leg over on top of my legs. Wrapped around each other, we settle and I listen to her breathe, loving the warmth of her breath on my neck.

This is not merely a physical and emotional connection. It goes to the level of the molecules in me that are also part of hers. I can never explain to myself why the tears always come.

Wherever he is, Wade is joyous. He knows what this means to me. Suddenly, I gain another, new perspective. Once upon a time, I was in Nora’s place, wrapped in Wade’s arms. In my heart, I realize the reason he knows how I feel is because he once felt the same way, too.

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