Once a Nightmare, Now a Dream
Everybody has something that they wish they could change. It may be about ourselves, our jobs or even a marriage that is souring. It could possibly be something about our own kids, who may seem out of control or don’t care what lessons we may have to impart to them. They are blind to the experiences that cannot be purchased anywhere except life’s hard knocks.
For me, it’s the insomnia I’ve suffered following my sister’s suicide. At first it was just grit and will to keep myself awake. I did this because I had the exact same dream every time I dared to close my eyes and drop my guard in an attempt to rejuvenate myself. In the dream, Bonnie would come to me, night after night, and say the exact same statement - one that pointed the finger of guilt directly in my face. It would make me question the decisions I made the night before her death, leaving just a shell of the person I thought I was. That person has never been seen since, and I suspect never again. This used to haunt me but now I am relieved. I hated that person, and I always will.
It is funny how our bodies and mind adjust to tragedy. I didn’t heal, I just willed myself to stop sleeping and made little attempt to lessen the pain this spawned on my family. I knew I was causing damage but it was like I was frozen. If somebody ordered me to sleep with the threat of force, I couldn’t make myself walk up the stairs and go to bed. Finally, Kate and the boys gave up, leaving me in the black of night; in the coal that crumbles as easily as my heart does. So, I would sit by myself and watch the clock.
It is amazing how quickly midnight turns into 4am, and before I know it, the sky stretches its colors announcing another day. Will it be wonderful or tragic? For me, there seemed like there wasn’t any middle ground. I lived, but it was in the land of eternal exhaustion. My eyelids even hurt.
“Just go to bed”, more than one person suggested. I know their intentions were based in love, and yet, it seemed so simplistic. I realized the weight of my suffering was not understandable to them. After many hours of therapy, I had a huge revelation with the dream. During the film-like haze that played during my slumber, Bonnie said one sentence. I am choosing to keep this private because I know this is what she would have wanted. Then one night, it changed. The dialogue we shared was a conclusive end to this torture. She was etherial in white garb and her essence was absolute perfection. She gave me the most loving smile, touched my cheek, and walked away. I have never been visited by her again. It is both a relief and like missing an old friend at the same time.
Now I know that if I didn’t let her and those nights go, there would be a definite line in the sand that, if crossed, the destruction would be irreparable. I don’t know how close I came to this line, but I know it started to consume me. It is hard to provide your family with what they need when you are broken inside. Children don’t understand why their parents are sad and it’s nearly impossible to explain. I used to wonder if my mom would ever get better, and now I wonder how many times did my kids think that about me? A terrible thing to ponder, yet I still do.
I won’t say my nights are bountiful with sleep and dreams that are pleasant. But I can say that I am much better now. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel completely refreshed, but for now, I am grateful for the nights that give me a few hours of rest. True, honest sleep. I keep my moms scarf under my pillow, and if I ever do have a nightmare, I reach under and touch it. Somehow, the softness of her memory takes me back to where I need to be: in my bed with the windows open and a cool breeze that circles over us.
I hear a train that is making its way through the middle of the state. I try and imagine where it is going. If wives or husbands of the crew worry about them and miss their presence? If they even know where they are? I bet it is peaceful on those tracks. That is one of the last thoughts I have before I go back to sleep - wonderful, blissful sleep.
Hope you have a great night! Do any of you have trouble sleeping? Let’s talk again tomorrow. I will bring the coffee. -Ruth