Dec 23, 2013 Sleep
Dec 23, 2013
People keep asking me if I am sleeping. I lie and tell them I am. Well, it’s not really lying. I do sleep. Maybe not enough.
Every night I lie in bed and read until I nod off. My book (or Sam’s kindle, or iPad) will fall onto my chest, and startle me into the realization that I am no longer reading but I am, in fact, sleeping. So I set the book (or device) aside, and burrow down under the covers next to my husband, and wait. Pretty much every night without fail my brain springs back to life, and the broken record of Sam’s last hours, minutes, and moments begins.
I tell myself I don’t have to do this. I tell myself it’s ok not to think about Sam in order to sleep. It doesn’t work.
I search for a memory of the day that’s pleasant-like today’s paddle board outing-and try to remember every detail, in order, in hopes of distracting myself to sleep. It doesn’t work.
Emptying my mind does not help-that just leaves space for the memory of his labored breathing to take hold.
Filling my mind with thoughts of the glassy water of the bay and the seals like long-whiskered dogs in the water doesn’t do the trick either. I can’t stay focused long enough on any one thing to fall asleep. Within seconds the memory of his eyes opening for the first time in hours just before his last breath sneaks in.
Suddenly I am filled with guilt that in those last hours when his breathing was labored and no amount of morphine would smooth it out, why didn’t I just pick him up and hold him? The evening before we had found the perfect position for his comfort, which was reclined against the arm of the couch, and it seemed that every time I moved him in the slightest-to give medicine or ease breathing-I just made things worse. Nothing worked. I guess that’s my answer. I didn’t pick him up because I was afraid I would make him uncomfortable. So I settled for sitting next to him and holding his hand and talking to him.
Nothing worked. And there is so much guilt associated with my inability to make his death peaceful.
Just as in the treatment of his cancer-Nothing worked. And even though it makes no sense, there is also so much guilt around our inability to save him.
So, to answer the question about sleeping honestly, “Not very well.” Nothing works.