Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Staying Awake

Under what circumstances have you been forced to stay awake?    Or willingly stayed awake?

Yapping neighbor dogs disrupting sleep and beckoning every canine in town to join the ruckus…

Sitting with a sick child or dying parents (as I did with both of mine)…Working the night shift…

Reading a thriller you can’t put down… Tossing and turning with ceaseless insomnia…  

Watching a red-eye movie, spellbound until the final credits run across the screen…

Waking from a nightmare you can’t shake… 


Quite recently my daughter wakes me up in the middle of the night.  She stands there crying in pain and fear.  I drag myself out of bed and return to her room with her.
Where I pray relentlessly, plead and intercede on her behalf.   At intervals I ask if we need to go to the emergency room.  Between sighs and tears she says no.

When tomorrow comes – if it ever comes – she is going straight to Immediate Care, I promise her.   But this night, dark as a tomb, won’t end.   No sleep or rest in sight.   
At last she tells me I’m doing no good sitting there.  And so I go into another room, park myself in a chair, and weep.  Feeling as helpless and microscopic as one of the unheard inhabitants of Whoville.    
Then a clear out-of-the-blue vision of Mary appears before my eyes.   She comes to me, not speaking words of wisdom as in the Beatles’ song, “Let It Be,” but in silence.
This is the face I see, the same one who portrayed the mother of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ.      

Her expression is one of knowing – just knowing how it feels to watch your child suffer.   And I simply cry out to her in desperation, “Help us.”
 All I know is that both my daughter and I fall fast asleep soon thereafter and rest peacefully. 

But not until after the first gray light of dawn has crept through windows and birds begin to sing their morning-has-broken arias, joyful songs erupting from every tree.

                                             When did you endure a sleepless night? 

43 comments:

  1. There's been many different reasons I've had in the past of having a sleepless night...some have been moments of anxiety, such as when, as a child, I would toss and turn restlessly, constantly waking up, knowing an oral report was in store the next day. Other times it has been up studying for a final exam in college...another...the glorious day my daughter was born, she was born at 1:15 am after an 18 hour labor, it wasn't before the sun rose that I finally got some rest. And yes, there has been those times when my children have been sick..those must be some of the most unpleasant nights. When as mothers we wait in patient vigil beside our suffering children who need us not only for practical reasons but for encouragment and comfort. I love the parallel you gave for your experience and Mary's. She is a true example of the compassionate and enduring love a mother is to have.

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  2. My youngest daughter was born at 1:20 on August 10th, nearly 16 years ago. I don’t remember even going to sleep at all that night, as I had company: my three wonderful midwives were over here at the house. At midnight, an hour and a half before she was born I was walking up and down the street under crepe myrtle trees, trying to help gravity along…
    Yes, cramming for college exams, staying up all night, wired on coffee (or whatever). I wouldn’t wish these moments on a soul.

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  3. This past week has been a challenge because my sweet girl is reaching a milestone, High School graduation, and in the fall she is off to college. The Mom in me is dealing with letting go, and for the most part I am coping, but ….. there are those moments at 3PM when I wake and worry about her out there in the big world with me every step of the way. But the last time I truly agonized for days on end was when my Dad was losing his battle with Cancer. I struggled with the indignity of the disease, my own loss of words, helplessness, and all those unexplained emotions that wash over you when you’re facing the death of a loved one. During those black nights, I wrote page after page in my journal. I’ve never gone back to read those pages, and honestly I don’t think I ever will, but I know the act of writing out my fears and hurts and all that other junk it was such a relief, like having a friend who will always keep your secret.

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  4. Debra - what an intense, fearful, and yet deeply spiritual experience. I can only imagine what you must have been going through - knowing that your daughter was not well, knowing that you love her with every part of you - and that you could only wait.

    Your vision of Mary is inspired. A moment where in such calamity, there is also purity and love. Almost like these two things both oppose and balance each other. I can imagine that as a mother, you become very accustomed to these oppositions.

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  5. Brenda, High School graduation is a milestone toward which my own babygirl is fast approaching. I read one of your posts where you mention this, and I saw your beautiful daughter in her prom dress - A real princess! When she goes off to college, how far away will she be from home? This might keep me awake at night too :(
    Since my dad battled cancer I know what that ordeal is like. I can also identify with your words, “I struggled with the indignity of the disease.” Writing poetry was my therapy during this time, that and journaling. No telling how many boxes of “top secret” journals I’ve packed away, along with all of my innermost secrets.

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  6. I've endured sleepless nights.I used to have nightmares all the time.Perhaps it was my conscience telling me not everything is all right. Or my boyfriend didn't call me.My soul could be so restless at times. But then, letting it be...gave me sense of calm.You know Debra, I liked that you just did that, just being there is more than enough. Just allowing God to love me and embrace me at those moments of fear and anxiety is enough.

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  7. Recently I've experienced an illness that has forced me to stay awake due to the intense pain and before that I stayed awake grieving for several days after Erin's passing; finally my body gave out and sleep overcame me.

    What an inspiring experience to have Mary visit you in such a manner, sure it was very reassuring for you and obviously it worked out as both of you fell fast asleep. Being a Mother is a tough job!!!!

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  8. @ Kristen – Yes, it was a deeply spiritual experience seeing Mary, who suddenly appeared in the dark of night. Just the memory of her face brings comfort to me even now. Did God send me this vision of she who is called ‘blessed among women?’ I believe so. She is love and purity personified. How right you are in saying that, as a mother, I must be accustomed to oppositions… both darkness and light, sadness and joy, fear and hope, pain and healing - all those opposites that come together to bring wholeness.

    @ Melissa – Nightmares are just revelations of our unconscious fears. I shared with someone today a nightmare I recently had, one that revealed my buried emotions, one that helped me cope in waking reality with renewed boldness. Nightmares can be blessings in disguise, as they are often instructional and serve as guidance. But it’s just a matter of knowing how to decipher them. On just being there… yes, it’s enough to simply be still and let God love you.

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  9. Right after my ex and I split, I had a lot of sleepless nights. That went away after awhile, but that first month, I was a zombie. Have no idea how I worked or did anything.

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  10. Probably my worst night was my husband's first night in my ICU. He kept taking his oxygen off and I knew my coworkers would soon have to restrain him for his own good. So, I held his hands all night and asked Love for help. His whole time in ICU til the day he died he never did have to be restrained. I did not remember this until now when your question prompted me to think. I am so grateful to Love for always being here for me. Thanks, Debra.
    Love, Linda

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  11. @ Stuart – What a hard time you must have endured… sleep deprivation for a month? Did you ever catch up on all those nights of lost sleep? It must have been quite an adjustment for you after the separation. Glad to hear you found you way back to normalcy at last.

    @ Linda – It sounds like Love was working through you during your husband's first night in ICU, using you as an instrument of peace and comfort. Your story just proves that Love never fails.

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  12. @ David – First, on the illness… are you still suffering with this? Or have you been cured? Of course I know that the loss of Erin caused you great grief. I still don’t even know how long ago it was when she died. I don’t recall reading how she died either. All I know is that you have had your share of mourning over the loss of such a beloved pet.

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  13. What a powerful experience you had. I've spent many a sleepless night, for many of the reasons you cited above, yet most spent talking/arguing/crying with my husband for myriad more. I wish I had seen a vision to help me.

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  14. I have had a rocky relationship with sleep all my life. Hard to turn the brain off sometimes...

    I remember those endless nights with sick children, nightmares (theirs & mine), worry, heartbreak, and on and on.

    I don't think insomnia is the worst part -- it's having to go to work the next day that sucks!

    One thing I love about being a self-employed blogger is that if I can't sleep, I can write, and then I can sleep during the day ;-)

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  15. Having problems leaving comments.
    But a sleepless night with a child of 10 months bleeding from bowel. Rush to hospitalat night. Possibly something sharp she'd eaten while crawling around floor. Parents get no sleep. Worst part was listening outside the room while a terrified baby gets an internal exam. I'll never forget her screams.

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  16. Sweepy, I hope that season of conflict and heartache has long departed from your life. Who needs that kind of drama? But I’ve endured those nights you speak of myself, without any visions. Only the hope that “this too will pass.”

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  17. @ Dangerous Linda - Ah, the joys and benefits of being self-employed. Don’t you love it? Not having to worry about insomnia? Or any of the above scenarios? Not so easy with small children though, as you have to get up with the roosters when they’re babies, but later… you get to be BOSS! My worst memory of dragging myself through a day without sleep was years ago when I was up all night and had to be at work in a library by 8:00 sharp, back when there were time clocks to punch.

    @ Jim - I’m glad the comment problem has now been resolved because it’s good to hear from you again. Where have you been for so long? Poor thing – both baby and parents – to have gone through such torment! No doubt you’ll always hear those screams coming from that child in your memory. Such a traumatic moment!

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  18. I was a sound sleeper until last year when I lost my dad on my birthday, 8th Jan . Ever since then I have become an insomniac and sleep for hardly 4-5 hours that too disturbed sleep. Waiting for a vision to help me ....

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  19. Sulekkha, oh how sad to have lost your dear Dad on your birthday. I don’t know how you cope on 4 – 5 hours of rest every night; but at least you get SOME shut-eye. You do need restorative sleep though. Do you ever remember your dreams? Because these too are visions – some psychologists call them night visions.

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  20. I think the hardest sleepless nights I ever had were when my partner of 6 years was dying with brain cancer. I stayed in Palliative Care with him for 3 months and slept in chairs next to him. I had my own bed there but it was hard to leave his side when he was restless. I would crawl into bed with him..perched on a narrow edge so as not to disturb him. He would settle down and sleep...I was always on guard. The one night I went home to get some rest...he came to me in my dreams...the hospital called and told me to rush in as he may not last the night. I made it and he did stay with us longer...but I never slept well the whole time...

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  21. Sick children - rocking and singing to them. Wiping their hot little foreheads with damp washcloths to cool them down.

    The worst was the phone call from my sister, 3,000 miles away, telling me my mother had collapsed unexpectedly and was hospitalized in a coma. She was by my mother's bedside. I was awake all night praying and received the shocking call in the morning that my mom had passed. God gave us the strength, through prayer and faith, to carry on with what had to be done.

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  22. Ravenmyth, I see now where you get your spiritual fortitude, and why you are so abundant in blessing power. You’ve been through boot camp. Three months of nurturing and tending to your partner with little real rest or solitude must have strengthened your endurance. This is a quite a story of courage, dedication, and genuine love. Why am I not surprised that he’d come to you in a dream and forewarn you of his impending death? It was your pure love for which he decided to hold on just a little longer.

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  23. @Mari – I remember well (though it’s been years) staying up with feverish children, worrying about their temperatures soaring too high at night…

    3,000 miles – your dear mother must have lived on the opposite side of the country from you. I’m absolutely certain that she felt your prayers even through the distance, and even in a coma. Prayers have wings. But still, this must have been the shock of your life, suddenly losing your mother without having had a chance to see her again and say goodbye.

    I received a phone call one evening from a doctor, telling me that if I wanted to see my mother alive again that I should get over to the emergency room NOW. She’d suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma, and probably wouldn’t make it through the night. But at least I could drive over and see her that same evening; it was only about a 40 min. trip to Goldsboro.

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  24. Deaths and illnesses of family members are the only occasions I recall sleepless nights. Once sitting in Emergency from 9pm-4am with a family member's nosebleed that wouldn't stop, and once getting a call at 10 pm that a family member had died.

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  25. The memory that comes flooding back was the night before my youngest daughter's batmitvah. My eldest daughter decided, against both her parents wishes to go out into town. When her mobile phone and purse were lifted from her handbag, she tried to stop the thief, and got a bottle over her head. We spent all night in hospital, and all early morning trying to get the matted blood out of her hair, and then a run around in town to try and get her hair to look as good as possible considering. The party went great, and both my daughters looked fantastic. We then slept like logs that night.

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  26. Laura, you are among the blessed to have had so few sleepless nights. Experiencing sleep deprivation is bad enough, but the last place I’d want to be is spending my night in an emergency room :( When my husband’s parents were in a car accident, he spent a long night with his dad, then came home to announce that his mom didn’t make it. Of course we all stayed up that fateful night.

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  27. Larry, what a night! This whole scene sounds almost surreal, like something you’d see in a movie. You must have felt like you were living through a nightmare! Bang, bang, bang… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Ever heard that? Did your oldest daughter come to the conclusion that rebelling against her parents' good judgment just MIGHT have resulted in such chaos and havoc? Just wondering if she ever connected the dots…

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  28. Just had one. Two nights ago- a special holiday where we have to prepare as if we are on the foot of Mount Sinai and the 10 commandments are to be issued momentarily. We stay up all night studying, discussing, anticipating, until at 6 AM, we start the morning prayers. We hear the 10 commandments uttered at 7:20. We have been blessed with these commandments and the atmosphere is electric...
    I have also spent the night nurturing many a sick child. I prefer the former, but recognize the needs of my children.

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  29. Roy, did they serve coffee? Because to stay up all night studying I’d have required at least 3 double expressos. It sounds like an enjoyable evening, everyone focused and discussing the 10 commandments, anticipating the BIG EVENT. Sounds like an enlivening experience. Who was Moses?

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  30. What a powerful experience you have had Debra. I have had many sleepless nights not being able to sleep a wink till the early hours but the night Ron my son was lost for the whole night was a night I stayed up with a feeling of helplessness and horror. I can never forget that night.

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  31. Hi there! You've been added to my Blog-A-Licious library! Do keep your great posts coming! And do have a peep at the other Blog-A-Licious Blogs.
    Cheers - Dora
    http://blogaliciousblogs.blogspot.com/

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  32. @ Rimly – OMG! How did your son Ron get lost for a whole night? You should tell this story, an unforgettable sleepless night.

    @ Pandora – Thank you! And I’ll be over to check out the other entrants ASAP.

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  33. Debra, what a beautiful image that must've been! I can think of no better company in a time where you feel like you're running on empty. Your experience reminds me of the many times when anguished moments have made me turn to God and His Mother to say, "Can you carry me for a while, for I can no longer walk on my own?" My father's death was one of those moments. I don't know how I made it through the fateful night when my sister called to tell me he'd gone into a coma and that it was best to bid our goodbyes. Six thousand miles away, my son, the Significant Other and myself said goodbye to my old man for the last time. It was the hardest night of my life and through the pain of it all, I reached out to God and the Virgin Mary and said, "Won't you please help me get through this night and the many more that come after it." And they did. I'm glad you got through yours too.

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  34. Bella, Mary didn’t stay for long - she just appeared long enough to reassure me that she knew how I felt. From six thousand miles away you said your final farewell to your dad? I can only imagine how heavy your heart must have felt during those parting moments, what a sorrowful time this was. And I’m sure you must have endured succeeding sleepless nights thereafter. But at least we know where to turn in times like these. At least there’s consolation when we need it most. For this I’m most grateful.

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  35. Debra, we're six thousand plus kilometers and about 4,200 miles away. Sorry for the error. Part of my brain is thinking in kilometers and the other part in miles! Saying goodbye to daddy in those circumstances was very painful and difficult but thankfully, prayer got us through it.

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  36. Bella, I left you a message on your ‘coffee’ post. What a delightful read! Please go read my comment before you move on…

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. Hi Debra, I have been reading the moving comments your wonderful post has inspired and I feel an urge to write this note. I have been a critical care nurse for 30 years, I have had the honor of taking care of patients who are dying in ICU. I am blessed to be able to talk to their spirits. I am known for this and am assigned to patients and families that my co workers think I can best serve. I help my patients become aware that they are more than their bodies, we deal with their issues, and I help them to make choices based upon Love not fear. Over the years,my patients have TAUGHT me. If I can say something to all of your followers, one of the greatest things my patients have taught me is to trust Love, and, from my experiences with them I no longer believe in death. I don't know if this will help any of you, but, thanks for letting me share. NOW, I can go to sleep. :)
    Love, Linda
    imlindai@hotmail.com

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  39. Linda, this is a wonderful testimony of your service and commitment to Love. I have a friend who is in charge of ICU as well, and she has shared with me some miraculous stories. You have a high call, to be able to minister to the spirits of your patients, to remind them that they are not their physical bodies, but are spirit beings for all eternity, and to help release them from their fear of death. I appreciate you sharing this message.
    ~ Love and Light

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  40. to be kept up, overnight, because of the great love of a mama for her baby – the love that feels the pain and can't go to sleep if your baby isn't going to sleep. I say baby because I know enough to know that they are always your babies. If there is a reason to lose sleep – that's a noble one. Me? It's just the thorn in my side that never lets me get sleep – at least good sleep – God has allowed it to remain – it has done good work – I hate the thorn but love the God who allows it to remain. I always – always - heart reading your words. God bless you Debra.

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  41. Craig, is this sleep disorder one in which you wake before REM has kicked in, therefore not allowing you restorative sleep? Do you just reach a semi-conscious dream state without falling into a deeper level of productive sleep? Or is it a matter total insomnia, where you experience no drowsiness at all at bedtime? I know you’ve written that you’ve sought medical help in the past, to no avail. Just so you know, I still pray for your condition. How has it done a good work? I hope you’ll write (if you haven’t already) on this soon, on how such affliction can be turned around for good. How inspiring would that be!

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  42. Debra - I was deeply touched by what you went through with your daughter. But I could so connect with your visualizing Mary. In my darkest hours, I too would look at a picture of her and cry tears that no one else knew about, and it gave me solace to know that she was listening. I spent many sleepless nights when I went through a series of awful relationships each one more painful than the next....Thank you for helping me remember the role of the mother of Jesus during these dark times of mine.

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  43. Thank YOU Corinne. I feel in good company with you and Mary, just knowing I'm not alone means everything.

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