And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
To sleep, perchance to dream – from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
For as little as I sleep, it still remains one of my favorite things to do. I’ve long been sleep-challenged; insomnia is a frequent visitor, but I also just don’t have a lot of time for it. I go to bed somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning, and I’m typically up at 8:20, so that I have time to bolt a cup of coffee before my first client at 9:00. Recently, when I felt I was forgetting things more often than I should be, I went to see a neurologist.
She gave me a long verbal test, that started with telling me three words, which I was to repeat to her at the end of the test. They were apple, book, coat. The test itself was a battery, but I found I didn’t hesitate with any of the answers, with the exception of counting backwards by 7s. I told the neurologist I am absolutely no good at math, and I bungled it after the first couple: 100…93…ummm… She laughed and said that was just fine, and at the end, she told me she’d never tested anyone who answered so quickly and so correctly. All of my answers were right, except for those darn 7s. She said the issue wasn’t with my memory, but with my sleep, that I had to start getting more hours in, and that I had to stop exercising so late at night, as that also likely disturbed my sleep quality.
I went home disgruntled. However, about one in the morning, I sent the neurologist a message: “By the way, you forgot to ask me about those three words. They were apple, book, and coat.”
She emailed back, telling me to go to bed.
So sleep. During the past two weeks, when I was home with mono, I slept a lot. I spent way more hours asleep than I did awake, and I reveled. There is nothing like waking up in a warm bed, the covers all curved around you, a purring cat on your shoulder (thank goodness she’s only 5 pounds) and the sun pouring in. Getting to lay there for a bit longer was such a luxury. There was no hurry to get up, as I had nowhere I needed to be. Sometimes, I drifted back to sleep. Other times, I reached for the book I was reading the night before and read until the need for food and coffee drove me out of the bed. Or I got up and fixed my breakfast and actually ate it in the kitchen, not at my desk, and I read the book, not my emails, while I did. I was clad in pajamas. Hair every which way. And I didn’t care.
But even better were the dreams. As I slept more than I was awake, I dreamed more than I was in reality. In the dreams, I visited past memories and I experienced new things. Some people were strangers to me, and others I knew so well. Many I hadn’t seen in a long time, and some, I knew I would never see again.
By far, my favorite dream occurred this week, after I was back to work and back to my hectic schedule. It was a dream where the impossible and the real came together.
My children are currently 39, 37, 36 (turning this weekend!), and 22. But in this dream, they were all the same age: 5. Looking at them was like looking at quintuplets.
They all wore the outfits I remember as my favorite for each, though the outfits didn’t fit the age sometimes. My oldest daughter Katie, for example, was wearing purple and white shorts, topped with a white shirt displaying a circus tent with purple and white doors. The doors could be opened, to reveal an elephant. Katie wore this when she was a year old. I bought it for her at K-Mart, because I knew she loved to play peekaboo. With the tent on her shirt, she quickly learned to pull open the doors and crow, “Eek-boo!” to her big brothers’ delight. And mine too. But in the dream, she was five, and she spoke the full word, “Peekaboo!”
Seeing those faces all together was just a dream, in the very real sense, and in the motherlove sense. The faces weren’t baby anymore, but they were still round and the cheeks were still soft. There were no angsty eye rolls yet. Just looks of absolute trust and love. Their hands fit completely in mine.
And then the even more impossible happened. My grandgirl, Maya Mae, walked in and stood next to the 5-year old who would become her father. And Maya, now 10, was 5 again as well.
Even in the dream, I knew the importance of the 5-year mark. Kindergarten. For the first three, Christopher, Andy, and Katie, kindergarten was a half day. For my youngest child, Olivia, and for my granddaughter, it was a full day. And for all of them, it was the day they stepped away for the first time.
I still remember the first day that all three of my older kids walked off to school together, without me going along to make sure that Katie knew where to go. School was a block away, and I could stand on the sidewalk in front of my house and watch them step onto school grounds. Katie looked over her shoulder at me. Andy, my middle child, tucked his arm around her and led her away. Christopher was nattering away nonstop, likely telling her every single one of his kindergarten experiences like the truly old man he was at 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.
Olivia, on the first day of kindergarten, sat down at a table and then looked up at her father and me. “You can go now,” she said.
Yep. Since they’re 39, 37, and 36 (this weekend!), and 22, that 22-year old about to graduate college, I can go now too. Again.
But it was so nice, for the duration of that dream, to have them all there again, and in the most impossible way. Those faces. Those eyes. Those smiles. “Mommy!” from three of them. “Mama!” from one. “Gamma Kaffee!” from the last.
Thank goodness for sleep, and the way it makes memories do the most amazing tricks.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.