Sleepless Nights

Are there nights that seem to go on forever while you wait to fall asleep?

Last night I let myself be lulled to sleep by the songs of a million frogs. There were high peeps and low gunk-gunks. They chattered and chirped; they growled and grunted and gulped. They screamed into the dark night. When friends phoned from Florida, they said they could hear them even with my windows curtained and shut tight.

This was one of the easier nights. The frog chorus was so grand that it drowned out all other impediments to my sleeping. But there were other nights when I paced, read or laid tense, and gritted my teeth, waiting for sleep to come and take over. There were nights when even pills, lavender tea and bedtime routines could not prepare me for the long nocturnal misery and misadventure. There were nights, long ago, when I fell asleep to music, fell asleep listening to the laughter of my mother’s bridge game ladies, drifted off to sounds of traffic, or the barking and screaming of a fight on the other side of a thin-walled apartment. Over some sweet years I laid awake wishing for sleep, listening for the stirrings of my sleeping children and measuring the small silences between the breaths of a snoring husband, aware of every tick of the clock. More recently, there were nights I lay awake remembering and missing my daughter, Marika. Now, most sleepless nights, I hear mainly the muddled noise of my own mind trying to make sense, or peace, from life’s events. But it will not be silenced. Not my mind and not the stirrings around me stealing my sleep.

So what! I will not allow the nightly wrestling for peace to consume me. It can hum and chatter and croak and churn, on and on all around me. Let my life flash before me. Let the rain beat down furiously on my metal roof. Let the lightning strike and the thunderous commotion endure. Let the dark of the night magnify every small disturbance into chaos. Bring it on! Anything, everything, let it rip! Yes, these pests are here again trying to rile me from my sleep but it is okay. It will be all right. It is only the same old familiar storm.

This storm is the song of my nights. The memories, the stirrings, the hammering, the leftover litter and worries of my waking world are like old relatives with annoying quirks come to visit me.  I can sit back and humor them and even be entertained. I can allow my thoughts of Marika to settle now because she would want me to rest. And the storm can resound around me. I let the chaos comfort me. I allow it to surround me and soothe the night. Safe and warm, there’s no place else I need to be. There’s nothing that needs to be done before morning. I rest amid the tumult of the night until the din dies down, or doesn’t. Until it’s time to rise up, shake out, stir up the dust and rouse trouble, and let the royal ruckus of My Day begin.

What are the noises in your night that can keep you awake or be your lullaby?

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