There is a scene in Mike Nichols’ superb film “Wit” in which Emma Thompson’s character, Professor Vivian Bearing, desperately longs to return to her bed. She is fed up with being subjected to a relentless series of tests and seeks only to get back to her familiar bed. Never mind that her bed is a cold, institutional contraption equipped with electrical controls and side rails in a fluorescent-lighted sterile room replete with white walls and acoustical ceiling tiles.
All of us can identify. Our bed, our own, personal bed, is with us from birth to death. From bassinet to crib to youth bed to bunk bed to grownup bed to marital bed to sick bed to death bed, this is where we want to be, our very own familiar, warm, welcoming place of rest and comfort. No other place satisfies us as well. This is where we sleep. This is where we flee to cry, retreat from a fight, seek comfort, read, rest, sleep, perchance to dream. Our own bed.
Troops fighting on foreign soil yearn for the day they will return to their own safe beds. So do those who must spent nights on the road, those whose business requires them to travel and sleep in commercial establishments. Hotels do a good job of making one comfortable, by and large, but it’s just not the same, not that familiar pillow, not my bed.
Some who have no home improvise a bed from discarded cardboard and will fight to protect it from others who try to claim it for themselves.
Acts of love take place in our beds. So does sex alone or with others not necessarily our spouses. Babies are conceived in all sorts of places, the back seats of cars among these, but most get their starts in beds.
We take to our bed when we are lonely, depressed or physically sick. We all do. We are in bed when we die, most of us.
Many writers have reflected on the importance of bed in our lives. Anne Lamott writes, “My idea of absolute happiness is to be in bed on a rainy day, with my blankie, my cat, and my dog.” But Guy De Maupassant summarizes it best with this statement: “The bed comprehends our whole life, for we were born in it, live in it, and we shall die in it.”