Monday, March 16, 2009

From the Land of No Sleep

There is a land where you do not sleep. I live in its capitol city. I moved here a year ago. Like so many transplants, I thought it would be temporary but a year later we have settled in, the carpet wears the depressions of furniture that does not move, my eyes have baggage, my body is unglued. We live each day with no sleep to pull us together, no sleep to give our eyes their rest, no sleep to stop the hallucinations.

Willa is the sun that will not set. In this land she fills our sky with waking. She will not allow the moon to rise; she with her tiny hands manipulates the levers, never setting the stars into motion. She will not allow sleep to come. Not to anyone.

Late in our never-ending day we slip her a drug to march her off to a slumber that will not last. We may, on a very very good night, get two hours. Then she is up every twenty minutes the rest of the night. It has been this way for eleven months. Every night.

She knows it’s time, she knows what sleep is for. She just cannot sustain it at all. During the days she takes occasional Napoleonic naps (15 to 20 minutes) before marching off to conquer Europe.

Apparently this is one of those constant Costello traits. The ones we all suffer. I can see my neighbors in this Land of No Sleep from my bedroom window; all lights are on, even in the dead of night. I wave.

We hope this improves. No one can tell us if it will or by how much. And so I go about my day, not worrying about the cats I see out of the corners of my eye that cannot be there, or the people that populate empty rooms. I know my tired mind is making them up but I am too tired to care anymore that they are there, or not there as it were.

My husband and I trade off nights though we have refused to separate into separate rooms. So this of course means that neither of us sleeps ever. We’ve made our peace with that too.

I avoid heavy machinery. I no longer do simple arithmetic. I smile a lot, just so, with a slightly deranged look in my eye. The one that twitches…


But not by much.

And the 15 pounds of unstoppable life? The sun, moon and stars in our Land of No Sleep? She keeps going, fueled by something internal that would power a locomotive, I’m sure of it. I think it is her will to live. I think it may be that she refuses to miss anything, even if she has to see it through closed eyes, hear life through ears that are open all the time.

Just being in close proximity to her you get a little of this energy. It does rub off, but not enough. Her coal burns entirely for her. So we inhabitants of this strange land have caffeine addictions, unnatural love for pillows, loss of words. Sometimes we just can’t find things in the dark, and sometimes we get to dream.


Ann said...

I too am a native of the Land of No Sleep. After Caleb was born, he slept like a champ. He slept through the night very early on and I remember thinking, "Is that because of Down syndrome?" I sometimes still have the Ds glasses on that make you think everything is related to his diagnosis. Well that sleeping champ is long gone. He wakes up a lot now and he happens to have a twin sister that wakes up too and he happens to have an older brother that wakes up every now and then so I moved to the Land of No Sleep. I sometimes fantasize about the teenage years because I know teenagers like to sleep a lot.

Jen said...

Just when I think you've written the most poignant, beautiful post in the history of blogland, you go and one-up yourself. This post gave me chills. Especially this part:

"Willa is the sun that will not set. In this land she fills our sky with waking. She will not allow the moon to rise; she with her tiny hands manipulates the levers, never setting the stars into motion."

Sleeplessness sucks, but it certainly seems to agree with you. Amazing post.

anahita said...

i am so sorry about this.

We are very lucky Uly has always been a very good sleeper.I remember that i even had to wake him up to feed him.(I refused the night feed and feeding while he slept.)
i also remember that whenever things where a bit diffciult in hospital, waiting for a test or an operation and taht we his parents were very anxious he would just sleep.I thanked him many times for doing that.
Actually his dad does exactely the same ,he just sleeps if he's anxious.