The Longest Night

I didn’t sleep much last night.  I’d been struggling with keeping a headache at bay for a couple of days.  A long drive in the car yesterday over the twisty Sierra mountain back roads didn’t help, nor did having too late a lunch.  Getting too hungry always makes my head hurt.  During our delayed lunch, I got some family news that unsettled me, throwing me a bit further off kilter.

Then there’s the part where I always get a little grouchy around my birthday (December 22nd), which is generally overwhelmed by Christmas.  I usually put on a brave act of not caring, but it actually does bum me out sometimes.  Uh oh, I’ve outed myself!  All you other Christmas kids out there will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Back at home in the evening, I gravitated toward a bit of relative solitude, hanging out with my laptop in the rocking chair in the living room, enjoying the Christmas tree and the warm fire in the woodstove while Conal and Patrick spent time on their computers in the office at the other end of the house.

I’ve been very happy lately, contented and peaceful in my life.  The depth of my reaction to the collision of physical, mental, and emotional upheaval of the day surprised me.  Conal came out and checked in with me at one point, and I shared all this with him.  Oh, except for the birthday thing.  That didn’t occur to me till just now.  He thanked me for letting him know, and went back to the office since I wasn’t at the point of wanting any help.  I enjoyed his asking, and getting a little clearer on what was stirring in me, but I wasn’t ready to exit that introspective space yet.

The evening wore on into night, and I realized I was not getting sleepy.  Rather than toss and turn in bed and disturb Conal’s rest, I stayed up playing with my laptop in the rocking chair.  I caught up on email, read blogs, researched some products.  I listened to my collection of Christmas music and experimented with new software.  I watched part of a movie.  Have I mentioned in the last five minutes how much I love my new Mac?  Sigh.

A Twitter friend tweeted about this being the time of the longest night, and I was struck by the irony of my wakefulness near the turning of the year, when the dark hours stretch their longest.  What a long night to endure without sleep!  Anyway, the hours rolled on by.

I finally started feeling a tiny bit sleepy sometime around 1:30 a.m. and went off to bed.  Getting my eyes to stay shut required a bit of reading with my tiny booklight, but, snuggled into the cozy warmth, finally I fell asleep.

Perhaps an hour later, the discomfort of a developing UTI woke me up.  (Apologies for a tmi violation, but I guess I’m hankering to have the full scope of the night’s weirdness held and heard.  Proceed at your own risk.)  Four quickly successive trips to the bathroom later, I realized I was again rather wide awake, and too uncomfortable to sleep.  Perhaps physical stress and other factors triggered the episode, but whatever, I was desperate for some relief.  Jumping in and out of bed was certainly not going to help Conal get a good night’s rest, either.  Back out to the lappy and the rocking chair.  Surfing the net and rocking, hmm, surely there is some exceptionally clever metaphor in there somewhere…

I searched the Internet for information on home remedies.  Baking soda in water; apple cider vinegar in warm water with honey; cranberry juice; over the course of the next hour or so, I did them all.  Btw, drinking vinegar, even diluted and sweetened with honey, eeeww.  I also took a cranberry tablet and drank tons of water.  Anything, please!  Just make this stop!

Thankfully, I started feeling better pretty quickly, although you don’t want to know about the vinegar-flavored belching and impressive stomach gurgling that the baking soda water caused.  Gross, but totally worth getting some relief!  However, though I was feeling better better physically, I still didn’t think I’d sleep if I went to bed.  Good thing my friend the Mac was happy to stay up and keep me company.

Pat, Mr. Night Owl, was still up, putting together the new office chair we brought home for him.  After he had finished, he rolled it back into the office to give it a test run.  Test apparently successful.  Even he eventually went to bed, while I continued to rock and think and drink cranberry juice and play with the Mac.  Night waned toward early morning, but it was still perfectly dark.  The Christmas tree remained cheerfully on duty, doing its pretty, twinkly thing.  A gentle rain began to fall, water drip, drip, dripping from the eaves and quietly gurgling in the downspouts.  I felt a little better.  A bit sleepy, even.  The time was 4:38 a.m.

I oh-so-carefully slipped into bed, not wanting to wake Conal.  I’d left the heat pad on low, so the covers were already blissfully warm and welcoming.  In a few minutes, I was asleep.

This morning, it is a dark and rainy day, but Conal has the fire roaring again and I don’t mind.  I remember that every drop of rain is a blessing in this dry country.  Not feeling very ambitious, not to mention still a little fragile, I’m back in the rocking chair with the lappy. Writing it all down is such wonderful therapy!

I survived my long night and lived to tell the tale.  Not only that, telling the tale helps shake off the darkness.  Bless you for hearing it.  Tonight, the solstice brings with it the truly longest night of year.  I bet it won’t seem nearly as long as last night.

One Comment

  1. Barbara:

    I admire your ways of coping and your strength. I recall your strong Aunt Jeanne who would have moved Liberty Bell Mountain one shovel full at a time if it became her task to do so.

Leave a comment