"I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"
-- Ernest Hemingway
Tiredness won't come. No matter how much I run around during the day, I don't get drowsy. I exercise daily just so I can have the luxury of fatigue. I go out at night with friends to delay getting into bed. I eye the clock as I watch TV. After 11 p.m. I reasonably turn off the light and it all hits. The reality of my new life, my solitude, my loneliness comes crashing over me. I sob until there are no tears left. I even hope the crying will make me weary. Who knew that tiredness would become a luxury?
I am sad that I never cherished the rush of exhaustion that put me gently into slumber. Sleep has become elusive. I have tried drugs, drinks, and relaxation but the art of enjoying that happy moment when my lids gently close is no longer available to me. I avoid caffeine; I don't take naps; I keep the room as cold as the tundra; yet sleep still eludes me. How much has changed on this journey of grief? Even the simplest parts of my daily existence have become an obstacle.
After my husband Peter died last summer, I couldn't sleep on his side of the bed. He was a wonderfully big guy and I can still feel the dent in the mattress where he slept. I even miss his snoring. Who knew I would give anything to hear those loud honking noises again? I sleep on my side only, and when I wake, I simply pull the corners up on the linens, and the bed is made. I don't thrash, I don't move about, I just stay in one corner of the big bed, wishing for rest.
Friends and family beg me to take care of myself. I eat well, I exercise, but at night, when the lights are out, my resolve to be good to myself is gone. My defenses are truly down. I revert to childlike stubbornness and my will to fight in the dark ebbs. When will the anguish abate enough to allow for that blessed tiredness and release in the safety of sleep?
In the morning when I wake, the world comes into focus and the realization of my new life becomes clear again. I used to love that extra time in bed in the morning where I would have another crack at cozy tiredness and those few minutes more of sleep until the alarm would wake me. Or, I would snuggle into Peter's arms, and I would dream about facing the new day together. Instead I wake and start my distraction-of-a-day hoping I can tire myself enough to feel the luxury of a soft sleep later that night. My pal Kath has taught me a game I will use. I think of people with names starting with the same initials like Abigail Adams, Benjamin Britten, and Charlie Chaplin. I find it soothing in a weird way to go down the alphabet. Does anyone know of a person with the initials XX?
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