Though the insomnia monster hasn’t fully reared its head (he’s stirring a bit in hibernation), golden slumbers have definitely escaped me of late. When I do finally fall asleep, dreams are active, crazy, disturbing, tiring.
I have that sense of waiting for – something – again. Wears one down over time, being a psychic sponge.
Of course part of it is self-inflicted; I have a late-night reading disorder. When I was a child, it was under the covers with a flashlight. Now I have a husband who can sleep through almost anything, so I just leave my nightstand lamp on way too late. Many’s the time I wake up to turn it off; many’s the time I hit myself in the face with a book to wake with a start.
The last two books that kept me awake were both time travel books, the mildly hilarious, delightfully written To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, followed immediately by Jack Finney’s classic Time and Again (though in between I did read a bit of Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography and will get back to it).
If ever a book could make time travel feel real for you, Time and Again is the book. Its so good. But I actually preferred To Say Nothing – so Lewis Carroll for adults. Last night I started John Ehle’s Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation, one I’ve long intended to read but the purchase of which was finally spurred by my interest in Melungeons and the 23andMe testing we’ve done.
More on that later.
But books aren’t the reason for restless sleep, though they do at times invade my dreams.
Part of the cause is that “April is the cruelest month” – as T.S. Eliot put it. For many people with pollen allergies, that rings extra-true. Then there’s the whole “It’s finally warm! Brrrrrr” issue that drives everyone nuts. For the Cartwright girls, April was the long hell month in which Daddy slipped away from us – and though that is offset now by so many loved ones’ birthdays, its always there.
But in addition to the usual April mental unrest, so much has happened, is happening. Our big April Fool’s trick this year was that my handsome, youthful, healthy husband suddenly wasn’t. He woke up feeling odd and by noonish called me at work to say he was headed to the doctor. We talked on the phone off and on and he made less and less sense.
Scary. Julia was in my office for a cornbread festival meeting, so we hurried that up and hauled it to the doc – she drove the Jeep home and got John’s prescription filled while I got him home and in bed. He had a raging infection, boom, just like that, that could have been potentially life threatening within hours. The doctor told me to watch him and take him to the hospital if he seemed to be getting worse.
That was about three nights of barely sleeping, before he turned the corner. He’s much better but on medication for another month.
Don’t take anything for granted. Things can change in a heartbeat – or lack thereof.
On April 15, Julia, Susan and I went to a free screening of Chasing Ice, a documentary about the decline in glaciers. Though I knew most everything we saw in the movie, things have gotten much worse so quickly that if something doesn’t happen soon, we’re tipping, folks. Please see it if you can, or look up James Balog on TED Talks.
Climate change is definitely on the list of things that keep this grandmother awake at night.
That same night, John and I stayed up late to see the lunar eclipse – the “blood moon.” Stayed up late until John checked my time zone calculations and we realized that, as usual, I’d gotten it backward. So after staying up late, we set the alarm for 3 a.m. and got up to see the most beautiful sight.
John ran in to get the camera but couldn’t find the tripod to hold the camera steady. He hates this shot, but I think it’s cool.
The next day, Cathy called me at work about 12:30 – her doctor’s office had called and told her to get to the ER stat because her blood counts were dangerously low. Paul took her there and I finished up somethings quickly and flew over myself. Internal bleeding in our family is especially scary, since Daddy died so young of colon cancer – then watching what happened last year to our stepdad – but, thank our lucky stars this time, Cathy was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer.
Required a blood transfusion and staying until Friday mid-afternoon. Scared us all – and I need my baby sister. We’re both strong women, but we’re stronger together.
We got our strength from our mother, who is losing hers at a rapid pace. Cathy’s horribly low blood counts, which required a transfusion, were about what Mother walks around with all the time. Poor little thing. I know how tough she is, but that really gives perspective.
And makes me want to cry.
We’ve been helping her prepare for her big move next weekend. She’s moving to a smaller place, closer to all of us and her church – and on a lake. She’s been a dervish of activity, doing most of the packing herself. My friend Marsha helped her one day, and Cathy, the kids, John and Paul and I have put in hours, but she’s a self-reliant dynamo.
Today was our last Easter at the house Mother and Bill built and moved into in 2002. Bittersweet. We’re grateful to have her but take nothing for granted.