During my childhood, the Chanel 7 news opened with the same line every night: “It’s eleven o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” When I couldn’t sleep, those words wafted into my room from downstairs where my father watched local and then national coverage. I remember I’d squeeze my eyes tight and hug my Raggedy Ann close. I didn’t want to hear sad and tragic stories as I lay in the dark. Besides, it was so late, I’d thought. I should be asleep.
At the same time, I could settle in beneath the blankets. Not only did my parents know exactly where I was, the awareness that other people also weren’t asleep comforted me.
With Parkinson’s, my wakeful hours have shifted to that window between 4:00 and 6:00 am, when it is no longer night but still too early to be day. Not sleeping during those nondescript hours can sometimes make me want to squeeze my eyes tight to block out the loneliness. Everyone in the rest of the house – probably the rest of the planet – is nestled in a bed dreaming.
But when I let go of the should from childhood – the I should be asleep – I become much more aware and alert. During that other-people-are-sleeping time, I have been the witness to exquisite full moons, listened in on what seemed a conversation between a pair of barred owls, painted, practiced yoga. And, yes, sometimes cried.
Rather than descend into that sorrowful, solo, Eugene O’Neill-like state of A Long Night’s Journey into Day, I’ve taken solace as when I was growing up. It comforts me to know that many of us spend part of the night observing, creating, listening and simply being.
Considering that PD robs us of various abilities, it is that much more important to celebrate our ability to let go of the should. Ann has done so. She emailed me this poem she wrote while others slept:
WORDS by Ann Crotty
scattered within my heart
within waiting to be born
waiting to see what life
is like accompanied by the Disease that is now
your companion. A companion known by thousands
of others who walk along the same road
If you have musings, a story, poem or thought to share, please do. I’ll post them for other’s to enjoy in the waking hours between the nightly news and dawn.