The bed and the socks

May 07

Tonight I laid on our bed while he folded socks.

Let me tell you some stories about that sentence.

Our bed. In early 2004, newly married Jen and Brad went to a furniture store and bought a mattress. We did all kinds of laying on mattresses in the showroom and reading of the fine print. We didn’t have kids yet so we didn’t even know that we should definitely call this a date: our whole life was one big long date and every night was a slumber party with my best friend. We learned about pillow top vs. non-pillow top, flipping the mattress, coil construction/count, and other details that I’ve thankfully forgotten. Adulting is overrated.

Newly married Jen and Brad were so cute. I was silly, he was pragmatic. I tried to form solid, articulate, logical opinions about my preferred level of mattress support when I had a body that was graceful and hardy and — even then — gifted at sleeping anywhere, anytime. He laughed with me and he listened to me — whether I was on task or not — even as he crunched numbers and reread the fine print for the final two.

We held hands with interlocked fingers as we walked around the showroom to get our bearings. Is it funny that I can even remember the outfit I was wearing? My favorite green tank top from that year, a midnight blue hoodie that was so soft and cozy, and a long jean skirt. A non-dowdy jean skirt. That skirt was cool, right 2004 friends? Right?

In my recollection fifteen years later, twenty-six-year-old Brad made most of that purchase decision because I just didn’t care that much and I trusted him. In his mind, twenty-three-year-old-Jen made that purchase decision because he tried to give me the big and small desires of my heart and I wanted “that one”. We bought a queen size box spring and mattress because we lived in the beautiful and quaint 1920 Sears bungalow in Mt. Lookout that he purchased within six months of moving to Cincinnati for his first job out of college — long before me. (Is three years still “long”?) Only a split queen box would fit up the 1920 staircase, and — even if we could get it up the stairs — only a queen would leave walking space around the perimeter of the bed in our small bedroom.

And then we moved out of that house within a year. (It was a fantastic house. I still miss it.) And we still have that mattress in 2019. Brad says the fine print said it was a lifetime mattress; I’m quite sure it is and that the change has more to do with fifteen years added to our ages than the mattress itself. I wake him up often because he’s a light sleeper and I am an aggressive sleeper. I get up in the night often, and he doesn’t. He sleeps on 25% of the real estate (if he is lucky); I get the rest. (You can ask my sisters and roommates. I kick; no one ever wants to share a bed with me.) In 2019 I am less hardy, but still silly and more pragmatic. My hips hurt often and most from lying in bed, probably because I spend a undue amount of time lying in bed either resting or sleeping. He still loves me most, and is still sensible but more silly. His back hurts because he’s a stud athlete who voluntarily pushes his body to the limit and also neglects his core. We both have high value on sleep because we are smart people.

Last month dear friends offered us a free king size mattress, box spring and frame. When the communication came I accepted after talking about it with Brad, and I said, “This is amazing! It’s going to be like being on a luxury hotel room vacation every day!” The details came forth attempting to tell me what kind of mattress, and what kind of frame, and all the fine print things, and I said, “I literally have no expectations. My hope is that my hips would feel better, but I get that might not happen. We’ll keep our old mattress in case it’s not a match for us. I am hopeful we will both sleep better. No matter what, I am humbled to accept such a generous gift.”

And so within days, we had a new-to-us king bed installed. Our related friends who were helping with this gift made a further decision. They took their newly-purchased-in-the-last-year-for-themselves-after-much-research-and-years-of-sleeping-on-inferior-bedding king box springs, and swapped them out with the regular ones that were intended to be for us. Their box springs — the ones they researched and splurged on — are the automated ones that come with remotes and move the head and foot of the bed up and down. They also got us a new mattress topper, mattress pad, and our first set of king bed sheets. And now that it’s been two weeks, I can honestly say this is the best sleep Brad and I have had in years. My hips are leaps and bounds better. His back is having more good days. I can get up several times in the night and not wake Brad up. When I had my bronchoscopy and my chest was extra coughy and irritated, I was able to put the head and feet up and sleep in the reclined position. Apparently Brad is out of kicking range in the new bigger size. We are more rested and better together.

It’s such an amazing combination of gifts and such selfless generosity. It has mattered to us and we are super humbled and grateful. It has been a bright light this season. Thank you.

In the quiet of our room tonight, Brad and I talked about The Big Things and The Small Things which these days all feel very important. As I sat and watched, he went through the giant — epic, really — sock pile that has once again built up. I dislike matching, rolling and putting away socks; I don’t know why I don’t like it, but I don’t. As we talked he sat cross-legged on the floor for two reasons: “Oh there’s where all my work socks are!” and also, he knows I hate folding socks. He made matches and I laid down and watched. As we talked back and forth we made progress on the big and the small things. But moreover it was a moment we both knew with fierce certainty that we have everything we ever wanted in this life. Our contentment and our love are deep and true and far and wide, and well told in the story of a sentence.

Tonight I laid in our bed while he folded socks. And the richness of our story is wrapped up in the smallest and the greatest of treasures we keep mostly in our hearts.


  1. Mivhelle /


  2. Kathi Roth /

    Oh Jen. You are a gifted storyteller. I laugh, I smile, I cry. You are an artist with words. Truly. Your love for Brad just resonates. And to those sweet people who gave the gift of restful and healing sleep to this dear couple a heartfelt THANKS from all of us too

  3. Karin Eppert /

    I have no words to tell you how much I love this story. Choked me up.

  4. Newbie friend /

    Beautiful story, beautiful couple, beautiful life!

  5. Tamara /

    I love everything about this!! You write so beautifully and have such a way with your words that I am drawn right into the story.
    And, I am so happy that you and Brad are resting well and getting some much needed sleep in your new bed. Continued love and prayers for you all!

  6. Marlayne /

    Happy, sad & Mostly Loving tears ? I’ll never fold socks again without the memory of your story❣️??❤️

  7. Susan /

    Beautiful story. The bed was a wonderfully thoughtful gift. As always, l loved reading this. Your stories touch us all on so many different levels. ❤

  8. Jean /

    You are able to capture the beauty of the present moment even more fully because of the context you give it. Thank you for writing your stories, and for centering all of us – focusing on the gift of gratefulness.

    (p.s. I was not a big sock folder either, it was one of a handful of “consequences” for misbehavior I gave to my children. Probably I have destined them to hating the task as well. :-))

  9. katie /

    This one made my cry. I have to confess I hate folding socks too!

  10. Christin /

    My two favorite quotes: “We both have high value on sleep because we are smart people.” and “ It was moment we both knew with fierce certainty that we have everything we ever wanted in this life.”
    I love you, your wit, and your depth!

  11. Alisha Moore /

    What a beautiful story and a beautiful gift. I’m always amazed and encouraged by the generosity and kindness of those people God uses around us to show us His goodness. His love is rich and gosh He’s blessed you with a wonderful way of telling your story. Keep shining for Him, Jen. Continuing to pray for you.

  12. Tiffany Wellinghoff /

    I love the simple and complex ways you love each other! ?

  13. This story is so good it made me teary. It’s good because of the content you share — the importance of people in your life — but it’s also good because of how you share it in your writing. ♥

  14. Bonnie B Jackson /

    Love love this Sweet story and also I’m a sock folder ?… It truly is the little things that bring centered Joy to our lives. The Lord knows our needs and fulfills them in His time!

  15. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, what a beautiful recap of your’s and Brads’ shopping together. A story to be treasured by the girls.. Prayers for you as always.. Also , now you can get many many nights of peaceful sleep..Take care