I'm a past-grand-master of the international society of insomniacs (or would be if there was such a thing, or if I actually knew about it), but my inability to sleep has always shown itself at one end of the cycle--the getting in bed, putting my head on the pillow, closing my eyes and slipping into slumber part. The fact that there are people in the world (and I'm married to one of them) who can turn off their light and turn off their brain at exactly the same moment has always perplexed, and often annoyed, me. Especially when he's just lying there sleeping! I mean, of all the nerve. I'm tossing, turning, and, THINKING. All that blasted thinking that happens when I want to shut down, shut it off, let it go, as he tells me to. "How do you stop thinking?" I ask. "I don't know," he tells me. "Just close your eyes and stop. WHAT?
But what I've always taken pride in (is that a perverse pride, or simply some sort of comfort for when I need it in my most wakeful moments) is that if I do manage to get to sleep, I'll stay that way. I am not a light sleeper. Never have been, though most mothers, if you ask, won't admit this. They'll say, "I always had half an ear listening for my children. Fortunately, I was a light sleeper." Not me, though. Fortunately, my husband was a light sleeper, because if I manage to get to sleep, not even their cries could have awakened me, I'm pretty sure. And it's also why, when Beve had to be gone occasionally, I 'let' our children all sleep in our room. I wasn't going to take a chance that they'd die in a house fire because I hadn't awakened. Not that I'm paranoid or anything...I just don't like fire, and after all, there were three of them and I only had two arms. How was I ever going to get them all out by myself anyway? What on earth were we thinking to have them so close together? It's things like this that kept me from falling asleep AT ALL on those nights with those three small bodies packed in my bed with me, NOT the fact that there were legs kicking me from every angle, and no space to breath.
What was I talking about?
Oh yeah, sleep. My point is that almost never wake up once I fall asleep. But I did yesterday. Boy, did I. For some unfathomable reason, I woke up at 3-stinking-AM, after a mere two hours of sleep, and never fell back asleep the whole live-long day until after midnight. I did, however, almost manage to drive into another lane of traffic in the middle of the afternoon, and when I got out of the car, E quickly scooted over to the driver's seat. It was a long, gritty-eyed day, reminding me a whole lot of those nights in college when I stayed up late to study. "Pull an all-nighter," some people called it, but usually I didn't study all night. I just wasn't very effective after about 3 AM--at least for studying. For something like driving out to the beach after midnight, I was always ready. I went to college in Eugene, Oregon, so was only a hour away from the ocean, though, in case you were wondering, driving out to that particular ocean to watch the sun come up is an exercise in futility, and something only college students without collective brains in their heads (I like to blame it on the post-midnight hour, but who knows) would do. Needless to say, the sun did come up the morning we were out at the Pacific Ocean to see it, and yes, it was at our backs.
Anyway, I have a whole new appreciation for Beve and his fellow insomniacs of the 'can't stay asleep' ilk. I've often suspected, but now feel more certain, that it's a more difficult challenge. I always know that if I can manage, please God, please, just manage to get to sleep, I'll stay that way until I'm rested. But Beve doesn't know that. Sure, he can fall asleep at the flip of a switch, without having to think about it (get the pun?). But he never knows if it'll take. He can't be sure when he closes his eyes that he won't wake up--thinking!!--at three or four in the morning. It's a shaky relationship to have with sleep. Very shaky indeed. And it makes me feel badly about all the times I've grumbled at this man because he couldn't stay awake for a conversation I really wanted. Today, though, after a good night's sleep behind me, I get it. Take it when you can get it, Beve. Whenever.
Sleep seems like a very small thing to be writing about this week. I get that. Our eyes, metaphorically, have been trained on that island across the Pacific where half a million people have become homeless in the last five days. But one of the thing that I know is that there are people in those prefectures northeast of Tokyo working around the clock on behalf of others. As I've watched them yesterday when my eyes were gritty from lack of sleep, it hit me how hard it is to move, to react, to have emotional, spiritual and mental energy without the replenishment of sleep. I understand why those workers at the reactors aren't sleeping, but I pray for the time when the crisis will have passed, and they will be restored.
And, while I'm at it, for all of you who daily fight--as Beve does--to stay asleep just a few minutes longer, I'm praying for you too. For restoring, replenishing sleep. As God intended!