Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dark Night of the Soul

Yesterday I got hit by a mack truck, physically. Worst flare-up I've had in a long time. Couldn't walk straight, kept tripping over stuff, couldn't think clearly, slurred my words, whole body in serious pain all day long, twice denied having been told things I had been told about schedule changes (i.e. short term memory loss), etc. Really hard day.

So I was in bed by 8:45pm. My accommodating husband accommodated me by crawling into bed next to me, enabling me to fall asleep nestled in the crook of his arm with my head against his chest, lulled by his steady breathing.

Woke up the first time at 2:15am. Wide awake.

Dozed until 2:30, when Jeff got up and trundled around the house, slamming the microwave door, clinking coffee cups. I was baffled that he could be getting coffee in the middle of the night, but he came back to bed. I asked what he'd been doing and he said he was getting hot milk because he'd woken up four times already and couldn't sleep well.

We both lay awake, not talking, not touching, each trying to sleep, for another half hour.

Finally, Jeff started to snore, which always puts me to sleep. Whew! But just then, around 3:15, Jonathan came in. He'd gone potty, and he was wearing church slacks (no idea why), and wanted help buttoning them. After a little argument about which comes first, the zipper or the button, he got all put back together and went back to bed. I wondered briefly about his attire but was too cozy to get up and do anything about it. If I get out of bed, that's it. I'm up for hours. I asked the Lord to put me back to sleep, but He said He wanted me to get up and check my email.

As I contemplated that, Jonathan came back in saying he couldn't go to sleep without his Pooh blankie, and would I help him look for it. First, I made him change out of his church slacks into pajama bottoms, then we got up to find his blankie, which we found.

So there I was, already in the living room. I sat down in my cozy corner chair and checked my email. I'd received a reply from a friend, giving me his permission to post his recent email to my blog, and for whatever reason, I felt God wanted me to post that post right away. I'll probably never know why it was so important that it had to go up at 4am, but whatever.

Jonathan came back out to the living room, claiming he couldn't go to sleep without his bedtime buddies (stuffed animals). He's got like 20 of them, and they'd been put away in the stuffed animal chest. So there I was, at 4:15 am, pawing through our old trunk in search of bedtime buddies. Bedtime buddies that Jonathan didn't describe by type, mind you (hammerhead shark), but rather called by name: "Mom, you forgot Larry." Who in the world is Larry?

Finally, all bedtime buddies found, Jonathan snuggled into bed, claimed he was cozy, and started to doze off.

By 4:30 am, I was back in bed. But I still couldn't sleep, so I grabbed my book, intending to read a little. I turned on my bedside lamp, forgetting that my soft wattage bulb had burned out and my new bulb was a 100-watt dazzler. Jeff woke up and scowled. I explained I was reading in order to fall asleep. He said he hadn't been asleep at all since 2:30 when he got up for the milk, and I countered with, "Well, you were sure snoring pretty loud."

He had to accept my iron-clad proof, so he scowled again, rolled over, grabbed an extra pillow, crammed it down on top of his head, and began muttering crankily. He was so cute that I had a hard time taking him seriously and not giggling in full voice, which just would have sent him over the top.

Round about that time, Jonathan wandered back into our room, saying he'd had a terrible nightmare and he couldn't sleep. I told him no one could sleep, and in fact, James was the only one sleeping. Upon learning that Daddy was awake, Jonathan made a beeline for Jeff's side of the bed, intending to climb right up and snuggle in. Three times I had to talk Jonathan back around to my side of the bed, while Jeff's staccato breaths indicated his supreme sleepy effort to hide his irritation. So cute.

Not wanting to prevent Jeff from further sleep (aren't I a saint?), I asked Jonathan if he'd like me to sleep with him, and he said yes. I grabbed my comforter and headed to his room, where he sported the biggest grin imaginable and tried to make room for me. But he wouldn't take me up on my suggestion to relocate his bedtime buddies to the foot of the bed to make room for me, so I tucked him in by himself once again.

Then I went back to my room for the seat cushion and back cushion from my overstuffed chair, and my pillows, and I bedded down for what was left of the night on the floor of Jonathan's room, trying to stay still so my midsection didn't make a gap between my two cushions and find its way to the hard floor underneath.

Jonathan watched me, happy as a clam, and finally, finally, his eyelids grew heavy as sleep claimed him at long last.

5am. I could hear Jeff snoring in the other room. Mission accomplished. Oh, yes. Jewels in my crown.

I can't really sleep with a lot of light (nor can Jeff, you may have noticed), and the boys have a tank full of fish whose constantly burning bulb serves as their nightlight. So I pulled my book out some more and read another few pages about 1936 Nazi Germany. Using one of the boys' giant teddy bears to prop my arm and book on, I was finally comfortable enough to enter dreamland.

Momentarily, I awoke from said dreamland with a start and a violent gasp as James's stuffed parasauralophus tumbled out of the top bunk and landed smack dab in the middle of my upturned face. James requested groggily, "Could you please get Max back up here?"

I blindly tossed Max back up, thankfully making it on the first try. I was able to go back to sleep.

I awoke again a bit later as Jeff's alarm went off and he got up to get ready for his day. I was alert enough to hear him peek his head into the boys' room and behold me curled up on my seat cushions and giant stuffed bears.

And I was also alert enough to listen to James stir, rouse himself, talk to himself for a few minutes, climb down out of bed, and head to the living room.

I think I slept for a good little while after that. Maybe an hour at least.

The next thing I knew, James shook me awake and said, "Mom, I can't get the guy to force the bomb across. On General Greivous."

Thinking he was at the bridge part, I responded in my stupor, "Uh...you have to shoot the two bombs."

"Got it," he said, and headed down the hall to the living room. But he was back two seconds later, saying, "No, no, no, no, no...NOT the BRIDGE. I already DID the bridge. I'm talkin' about the part where he forces the bomb across and it hurts General Greivous."

"Is General Greivous on the platform or on the high ledge? Have you started trying to kill him yet?"

"The high ledge. I'm about to start trying to kill him."

"Are you in free play or story?"

"Free play."

"In free play, I don't even use the bomb. I just shoot across."

"Oh. Okay. Thanks, Mom." And he was gone. I thought distractedly about what an odd conversation that was. A conversation I would never in a million years have deemed worthy of waking me from a sleepless night.

But the conversation roused Jonathan, who was pleased as punch to find me still beside his bed. He tried to snuggle down next to me on the floor, but there wasn't enough room for him, me, the giant stuffed bears, my cushions, his bedframe, the dresser, etc. So he got up.

I did try for one last stab at sleep, but my stomach grumbled.

Stumbling to the kitchen, I squinted at the clock. 7:45am.

Pouring the boys some cereal and making myself a breakfast sandwich, I betook my foggy self to my own little corner and sat in my own little chair, dazed and bewildered by the long night.

As I began to entreat Almighty God for SOME viable explanation for the night's events ("Why, Lord?! Wwwwhhhyyyy?!?"), James did something that unequivocally proved the truth of Psalm 30:5.

He paused on his way to the kitchen, turned around, looked at me, and said, "Oh. I almost forgot."

Then he came over to me, put his little arms around my neck, and tenderly kissed my cheek. "Hugs and kisses from Dad," he said gently into my ear. "He left before you got up."

Mesmerized by the innocence of pure affection, my laborious night faded immediately into my still-present fog, and I found myself to be suddenly, perfectly and completely content.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
~Psalm 30:5b


Amen and amen.

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