Sharing my mourning journey as my family learns to live a new normal after the death of my 19 y.o. son in an auto accident on 10/12/08.

To Sleep

“I’m afraid of the dark. You can fool yourself in the daytime, but not at night.”

From “Love Warps the Mind A Little” by John Dufresne

Sleep has never come easily to me. Since Jordan’s death, there is the added burden of nighttime being filled with unanswerable questions echoing in my head and all around my room:

  • Did my fear of death make Jordan die? Is this my lesson?
  • Were we too proud of our kids? Is that why Jordan’s gone?
  • Did I miss the signs that he was going to die?
  • Why didn’t I call him when he was driving back to school the night of the accident?
  • Why didn’t I know he was going to die?
  • Why Jordan?

I’ve begun to treat sleep as a chore instead of a respite. I go to bed nightly hoping for the best and more than anything else wanting sleep to come quickly. There are signs in our home that sleep is a struggle for all of my family. Mark and I alternate playing sentry for each other. He hovers, waiting for me to fall asleep before he tries to sleep. I wake in the night at the slightest movement from his side of the bed asking if he’s okay. We both ready ourselves for the chance of nightmares and have spent many nights holding and comforting each other.

When sleep does come for me I sleep lightly so as to hear the sounds of my children wakening in the night.

“Merrick are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay, just using the bathroom.”

The other most glaring sign of wishing darkness away is the hallway light that is on every night. It is the light that my daughters need to fall asleep. The light they need when they wake, to lead them to my room when sleep doesn’t return quickly. The hallway light has become the beacon of our grief. I see it shining underneath my door and see it for what it is, the sign of our loss and thoughts that creep in at night.

When my daughter Kendall was three and couldn’t sleep she would come into my bedroom and always have the same request, “Help me make it morning.” I always found her words so endearing and understood her need to make the dark go away so that morning with its light would be her refuge. Now when I lay down at night I find myself offering up the same plea, “Help me make it morning.” I don’t want to lay in bed eyes shut tight willing sleep to come as the unanswerable questions plague me. All I want is an uneventful night of rest.  I don’t want to be awakened by disturbing dreams or wake up crying from a nightmare that feels too real. Grief has made sleep a battle to conquer. Slowly though, I’m learning to take the nights as I do my days, breath by breath. Figuring a way to change my view of sleep so that nighttime is not dreaded with fears of phones ringing and children lost, but a sweet refuge, however brief.

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Comments on: "To Sleep" (3)

  1. I read this today in the New York Times and thought of you…

    “The loss you feel must not paralyze your own lives. Instead, you must try to pay tribute to your loved ones by continuing to do all the things they left undone, thus ensuring they did not die in vain.”

  2. Beverly Lyles said:

    Jackie,
    I am so profoundly touched by each of your journal entries. SInce my brother’s death, I have not been able to sleep with my blinds closed. Because of my ongoing insomnia, I have always made an effort to shut out any kind of distractions that might impede sleep – the darker my space, the better for sleep. But no more. I now pull my blinds all the way back to let in the light from the street, before I lay down for the night. I can not sleep in the dark anymore. The words, “help me make it morning” really hit me. So sweet. So innocent. So much meaning.

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