Sunday, September 7, 2014

Remembering Grief

Mike didn't sleep on Friday night after beginning a new medication. When I awoke, rested and curious about why his pillow had migrated to the couch, he told me that he hadn't slept, not one moment.

My breath went. I went into the kitchen to make breakfast and tried not to cry. A weight settled on my soul. I remembered that same feeling after my dad had died when I was thirteen. I would wake in the morning refreshed and as I got my wits about me, I would remember and a weight would descend on my heart. My breath would become shallow.

Grief is heavy.

The thing is that I hadn't realized just how hard it had been the first time Mike went through this. We just did what we needed to do. The summer days changed, became more quiet. If there was the slightest possibility that Mike was falling asleep, I shushed anyone in the house and turned down any lights. At any hour, we were prepared to go silent. Mike missed a few weeks of work, didn't drive safely, and couldn't decide simple things like what he wanted for dinner, let alone anything important.

He held my hand.

He didn't want to be left alone.

We were all afraid of what his sleeplessness could do. The list was frightening. The whole family felt the effects. After seeing three doctors and getting some help, Mike slowly began to sleep. After a month, he'd average two or three hours of sleep. When he got up to four hours, he went back to work and managed, though he didn't thrive there for a long while. After six months, he announced that he'd gotten six hours of sleep and I wanted to throw a party. Who would come to a party like that if they didn't know what it meant to us? We didn't care. We were happy. All I wanted was more of my ordinary life with this man. Was that asking for so much?

It took almost a year for Mike to get seven hours of sleep and he would occasionally get eight. His remaining doctor called his condition adrenal shock. It had a name.

And I very nearly forgot what that time in our lives was like. Nearly.

Until yesterday morning.

Thankfully, Mike slept last night. Oh, I don't think he got eight hours of sleep, but he said he rested. That translates to at least six hours of sleep.

Today, I'm breathing again.

Thank you for listening, jb

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