Tag Archives: insomnia


Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 4.29.34 AM

I might as well get up.

The last few nights I’ve awakened around 3 a.m., my thoughts flying to my friend who died suddenly on November 8 at 57 years old.

I recognize this, this peculiar alarm clock that rings in the deep night to remind me that something is wrong.

In the days after my mother died in 1999, and my Dad died this past January, I awakened with a racing heartbeat, momentarily panicked, feeling that there was something I should do. This is different.

I awoke with her face floating gently in front of me, smiling. My awareness grew to include the percussion of the long-awaited rain tapping lightly and steadily in the metal gutter just outside my bedroom window. Rain reminds me of home.

In my adolescence in Tacoma, rain was often the last sound I heard before dropping into dreams and the first when I awakened. It surrounded me, drops splashing on the rear concrete patio to my left and rivulets sluicing off the sloped path behind me at window height, inches from my headboard. Periodically the white noise of the mammoth furnace would overtake it, but even that was a comforting sound. Above me, I heard the occasional creak of my father’s bedsprings as he adjusted his position in sleep.

The cat is concerned, padding over the papers on my desk to approach me at keyboard height, his tawny eyes observant. When I lean forward, he abrades my face with his rough tongue, scouring me with affection. I pick him up for the moment he will tolerate being cradled in my arms, and he purrs. For him to turn on his motor is a rarity, a sign of affection he seldom confers.

I don’t know what I’m doing up either. I know if I post this that friends will worry how I’m handling my friend’s loss, but to awaken and think of her is not a sign of distress. It’s more like communing with someone dear, someone worth missing.

Here comes the rain again. Shakespeare springs to mind,

“The quality of mercy is not strained./It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/ Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:/ It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”


Filed under Uncategorized

Turn off, brain, and let me go the f* to sleep!

The lovely view from where I didn’t sleep

Just when I feel overwhelmed by my Dad’s declining health, it seems that the sleep gods conspire against me.

My anxiety – and accompanying sense of hyper-vigilance – built to a pitch over the weekend, even while my husband and I attempted to relax in Northern California’s playtime paradise of Lake Tahoe.

Over the past month, the medication that had been working so well to control the symptoms of Dad’s long-term congestive heart failure sputtered and stalled in its effectiveness. His weight dropped from 204 lbs. to 188.5 over three weeks, and then, when we cut back the dosage, spiked back up to 198 in less than a week.

My brother, who came into town to “spell” me for my anniversary trip, called me Saturday night. His voice was choked with emotion as he explained that Dad looked as weak and worn out as he’d seen him. When he asked Dad how he was doing, Dad replied, “I don’t think I can pull through this…”

That night, I left my cell phone on in case my brother needed to reach me in an emergency. Then starting at 1:30 a.m. that night, I started this exchange via text with my young adult son, who was finishing up packing for a 5 day cruise the next day. What’s funny about this is that I just couldn’t let go. I felt utterly driven to ensure that my son did not – gasp! – make a mistake packing:

Him: Do I really need a carryon? I was just gonna keep it simple with a rollaboard.

Me: It if fits that’s fine

Him: Fits what? I was gonna check it

Me: Rollaboards can go in the overhead bin. Then it can’t get lost. If you are going on a cruise your bag will never catch up if it gets lost. When you connect there is more of a chance of it not getting on the 2nd plane. It’s up to you but it’s safer

Me: ‘nite

Him: I have the red one, will that fit? [The red rolling bag is ginormous.]

Me: No. It has to be one of the small black ones. Sounds like you don’t have a choice unless you have a duffel that qualifies as a carry on. Southwest is pretty good about getting bags there so you’ll probably be fine. Don’t check your computer – keep it with you.

Me (again): The carry on can’t be longer than 24″ [Note: I have now gone on SWA via my cell phone to actually check the limitations.]

Me (again): Be careful not to oversleep

Me (yet again): Can I go back to sleep now?

Him: Yeah, sorry, I’m just gonna check it

Me: OK but keep your computer with you. Put your name and home address on a piece of paper inside the checked bag. Make sure it has a luggage tag too or put a paper one on it at the airport. Travel safely.

Me (again): Got your passport? Keep that with u too

Him (now at 2:02 a.m.): Found a duffel, using it instead & I’m not bringing a computer

Me: OK but if they make u check it remember to keep your passport with you, preferably in something by your feet. Passports can get stolen out of backpacks in bins. Students get targeted by thieves.

Me (finally): OK goodnight. I love you. Have fun.

Him: Gnight mom! Love you too & I’m sure we will

You can guess how the night went after that. I didn’t fall gently back into slumber.

On Monday, I made a record 20 phone calls to my father’s doctor, to friends and family who visited my father at his assisted living apartment, and to family to report in. At the time, Todd and I were attempting to complete a 7 mile hike.

That night, I was awake from 3 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. I’d drift into sleep and pop right back out of it.

I know I am not alone. Over the weekend, a dear friend lost someone she’d known and loved since childhood. She texted me last night, “Just took pill… haven’t slept in five days.” My brother who had been upset over the weekend texted me Tuesday, “I slept finally last night, though I had a 90 minute break in the middle.” Another close friend posted on Facebook: “Being the ‘sandwich’ generation and responsible for taking care of both parents and children sucks! Why do both generations have issues at the exact same time?????”

Five question marks is about right.

“Grief is a journey, I’m told,” my friend texted last night.

Yes, it is. But I am fortunate to not be on the trail alone.


Filed under Uncategorized