The weather is now cold enough that I need to turn on the heat and so it is official, my summer has ended. Yet there wasn’t much summer for me anyway. When it was gloriously 85 outside, when the lawn was growing rampant and disorderly, when the neighbors sweated and barbecued and laughed, I was simply trying to hold things together. For me, it was a summer stolen by my husband’s sickness, stolen by my son’s sleeplessness. I wanted to enjoy the sun, but I couldn’t. Instead, I just wanted sleep. I wanted sleep so badly it was palpable, something I wanted to dig my fingers into—to hold and hold and never let go.
When you are sleep deprived, you will do just about anything for sleep. When you are sleep deprived, there is no way for you to be rational with yourself or with the world. You will be angry, and shaky, and disoriented. You will start eating more prepackaged food because you are afraid of setting the house on fire while cooking because you can no longer concentrate on anything. You will think it is probably safer to take the bus than drive, but know you will never remember the bus schedules the way your body remembers the way home.
Your brain will feel like a sieve through which things are constantly falling. You will wonder what it is that is being sifted away; you will realize how little remains. You will remember that the only thing of value that you own is your mind; you will cry as you feel it ebb from you. You will have an idea for writing and by the time you open the notebook, it will be gone. You will have an idea for how to get out of this hole you feel yourself constantly in. You will never remember it.
You will want to enjoy the sweet look on your toddler’s face when he finally falls asleep, but you won’t. It is three in the morning and you will know only desperation. You will try prayer. You will try supplication. You will try on your knees, weeping. You will make promises you cannot possibly keep. You will bargain with sleep, and just like bargaining with God, you will find this to be a useless act. You will get nothing in return. It will only take and take from you.
You will forgive summer for fading from your sight, for being so barely noticed. You will welcome fall, winter, dream of the long sleep of black bears, the box turtle, even the ground squirrel, imagine yourself in mammalian hibernation, imagining your heart beat steadily but slowly thumping, your body curled around itself. You will imagine, imagine, imagine yourself asleep, wonder if you dream it, will it come?