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The Agony of Sleeplessness and Joy of Remembering

It was midnight and the girl was in our room again, this time to say she couldn’t get her music to stop playing. I’d lost count of how many times she got up in the four hours since we’d put the kids to bed. My body had imposed a 30-second fatigue delay – the time it took for me to process what she said and formulate a response. I turned off her music and shut the door, giving her firm instructions not to get up again until morning.

'wake_up' photo (c) 2008, - - license:

The next day she appeared unhindered by the lost sleep, bouncing around the house making movies and playing with her dolls. I, on the other hand, took a two-hour nap.

Most nights I sleep well all night, no interruptions. One difficult night wrecks me. Before Elli died, I rarely slept an entire night without disruption. Her body never rested well after a seizure wracked her one summer afternoon before she started preschool. I made my first terror-stricken 911 call that day as I watched her face contort, her arms jerk, and her skin fade to blue. The EMTs weren’t able to break her out of the seizure, so we raced her to the nearest hospital, sirens wailing my fear that she would never wake up or if she did, that she would never be the same.

She did wake up, and she was herself again, but she always needed medicines to control seizures, and those meds destroyed her ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Not only that, but she didn’t just hang out quietly in her room when she couldn’t sleep. She made all sorts of noise, sometimes happy, sometimes complaining, always loud enough to keep me from sleeping.

Elli in April 2007

On days like this, when a child has needed me once in the night and I’m struggling to stay patient and on task, I have no idea how I used to function back when sleep-deprivation was the norm. I do know this: lack of sleep damages one’s ability to remember. My short-term memory is terrible, and much of the last twelve years is a gray fog.

Today, I am thankful for sleep at night and the chance to actually take a good nap now and then. I am thankful for hard nights because of the remembering.(#587-590) I am also fighting off my regret for how poorly I handled those sleepless nights with Elli. I didn’t see them as extra time with her that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I was too tired to see any up side. I am praying for help to see the up side and to be generous with my love when my children need me now, even when it’s the middle of the night.

What past experiences help you be thankful today?

Today I join Ann in looking back on the previous week and giving thanks.


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