Since I've been a child I've slept on a huge feather pillow - the kind that is known as the "Continental" pillow in the West, the big square kind.
When it was young, it had belonged to my grandmother. Forty years ago that was, probably more; the pillow was new, stuffed with down and feathers inside a sturdy light canvas casing that was once a pale creamy beige. The pillow dwarfed me when I was a kid, it supported not just my head but practically half my body from the waist up. I'd snuggle right into it, and the dreams would come, the goosedown dreams from grandmother's pillow, building stories in my mind, perhaps training me for what I grew up to become.
The pillow travelled with me to three new continents in its turn. It came with us to Africa; it followed me to New Zealand; it joined me here in America when I married and moved here. Childhood, girlhood, youth, adulthood - it came with me through it all - this was the pillow into which I sometimes cried, which saw me toss and turn when sick or racked by high fever, from which I swam into wakefulness on every new morning of my life.
Over the years the canvas casing weakened, and every so often I'd find fine white feathers on my bedsheets, as though the pillow was seeping its feathered lifeblood. The feathers still inside the now aged casing, stained with its years of travel and slumbers, were starting to clump and harden, necessitating a vigorous boxing of the pillow every night before I went to sleep so as to redistribute the stuff inside the casing and prevent it from congealing into vaguely uncomfortable feathered boluses inside the pillow itself. It was becoming painfully obvious that even pillows have a life span, and that this one, my pillow, was reaching the end of its days.
I had a new one, all ready. But there it sat, inside the bedding chest, waiting - waiting for months, probably for years. Every morning I'd open my eyes in the morning, returning from my travels in the dream country, and I'd say, not today. There are still dreams trapped in the feathers, this was still the pillow touched and hallowed by my grandmother's hands.
It ended today, at last.
The old pillow is honourably retired. I sleep on new down tonight. New dreams may come, who knows.
The old pillow is in my other bed, awaiting disposition.
One thing I know. Unless something dire happens - like, the thing starts growing mold or purple antennae, it is not going to be thrown away. I will put a decorative pillowcase on it and add it to the pile of cushions on the bed in the guest bedroom. In time, perhaps the cat might catch a catnap on it, catch the taste of a ghost of a vanished dream. But there it will live out what days I have on this earth, with me, reminding me, keeping the memory of my grandmother alive in my house.
There is love in that pillow.
Rest well, old friend. You have earned your own long dreamless sleep. You have given all your dreams to me.