I spent many nights as a child reading under my blanket way, way passed my bedtime. My Mother would say, “Denise, are you asleep?” If the reply was “Yes Mum!”, then my secret was out, the door would open and my Mother would gently remove the flashlight – or ‘torch’ as we call it in England – followed by, “Now Neesy, you should have been asleep hours ago.” The penny dropped after a while and I finally figured out that it might be a good idea to keep my mouth closed, shut the torch off quickly in case Mum opened the door, and put it back on again when I knew the coast was clear. That way I could finish that story I was so intent on reading. I had to get to the end, couldn’t leave our hero/heroin in such a pickle until I knew he/she was safe and living life happily ever after. (I always had a stack of books at the side of my bed, picked up from the local library where I used to stop on the way home from school. That pile of books always filled the basket on the front of my bike.)
Now, my question is, was I reading because I couldn’t get off to sleep in the first place, or was my reading into the wee hours setting those habits that stay with me to this day? I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, no more do I read into the wee hours but the bouts of insomnia return periodically and sometimes last for months.
When I finally am able to close my eyes and drift away, I fall into the deep, deep sleep that caused me to hear more often than not during waking hours, “When Denise falls into a deep sleep, Big Ben’s bong could sound off next to her head and she wouldn’t hear it.”
When I was still living in Devon before my sister married, we shared a bedroom. Her fiancé – my now brother-in-law – came down to visit her as he was still living in the Midlands, and we had moved south after Dad retired. I started locking the bedroom door, for privacy reasons you understand. He had to hang his clothes up in one of our closets and I was taking no chances. One night after I had gotten into my nightclothes and popped into bed I forgot to unlock the door. The next morning after walking into the kitchen, my family looking at me and shaking their heads, Dad rolling his eyes, followed by much laughter, they told me what had happened. "Don't you remember any of this?" "No!" was the astonished reply, as more laughter ensued.
The sequence of events was as follows: Sister tries to open the door and finds it locked. Sister bangs on the door and shouts for me to unlock the door. Bangs several times more, to no avail and she woke my Dad up with all the banging. Dad now bangs on door with my sister behind him. He bangs even louder, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG AND BANG but by this time I had gotten into that deep sleep. Imagine all lights going on in the village, the echoes going through that small valley were and yes I'm embellishing that part. No neighbors were hurt during this true-life experience. Dad and very tired himself after a hard day's work, is getting a wee bit cranky and apparently adds a kick to the door along with the banging, in the hopes that the added noise will wake me up, but by now I am in my deepest sleep. Sister remembers she left the small window open, so Dad decides to go out in his PJ’s – did I tell you it was in the middle of winter? – and opens up the garage where he stores the ladder.
We live in a bungalow but the back bedroom window is high enough off the ground that a ladder is needed. He unfastens the latch by reaching in the small window and chuntering and muntering as he walks passed my bed, THAT finally wakes me up and I say “What’s the matter Dad?” He just looks at me, rolls his eyes, tells me to go back to sleep and opens the bedroom door, lets my sister in at which I fall back to sleep. I think my sister showed great restraint not smacking me with a pillow, Dad too. Next morning however, I didn’t hear the last of it. I still locked the door on my brother-in-law’s visits but I made sure I unlocked it again before I went to sleep.
My latest sorry tale is once again to do with sleep deprivation. Ahhhh, the dreaded sleep deprivation where I become my own worst enemy. Gregg has learned during our married life that through insomnia and during sleep deprivation, things happen. Feet get tripped over, ankles get twisted, shin bones get dented, fingers get nicked with knives (remember the Batman Band-Aid caper? I really shouldn't have been cooking that day), and every conceivable object can get dropped. I have lost more crockery that way but I am happy to say Gregg wasn’t here this morning to witness the latest episode.
I couldn’t get to sleep last night even though I tried my best. When he left at six I was still awake but barely, and I finally fell into an exhausted sleep, interrupted at around 8.00 a.m. when I apparently rolled over only to find myself hurtling into space as I dropped like a rocket/plummetted off the bed, hitting my eyebrow on the corner of the night table with such a bang that it woke me up, all this as I continued to roll off the bed - boy that's a long drop down - to land on all fours like a doggy. Talk about a rude awakening. I was so startled I didn’t know where the heck I was or what had happened. Still groggy I called out for Gregg and looked across the bed to see if he was still asleep, but couldn’t at that point in time remember that he had left two hours earlier. I went downstairs very gingerly because at least I was awake by this time, at least enough to make sure I did not have any more catastrophic events between bedroom and bottom of stairs. I called out to him but there was complete silence and it was only then that I remembered him giving me a kiss as he said goodbye two hours previously.
By this time I realized I had a sore spot on my eyebrow and when I looked in the bathroom mirror there was quite a visible lump and a purplish looking bruise forming on my eye-lid. For the time being I won’t have to put any eye shadow on that side, so I had better remember to put some on the other so I won't have everyone telling me that I must have been half asleep this morning because I only made half my face up. I certainly wouldn't want to freak anyone out as I know the thing is going to turn from that lovely shade of purple to the yukky shade of brown. And then I had this picture of my Mum, Dad and Sister looking at me, arms akimbo, shaking their heads and my Dad rolling his eyes and saying, “You’re still at it even after all these years then aren’t you? Oh Neesy, what are we going to do with you?” and that made me smile. Now when Gregg gets back, what a story I have to tell him. He’ll be surprised and concerned, and then we’ll have a chuckle at the silliness of it, and then I’ll get the talking too. “You really need to get more sleep My Love. Try to get more sleep!” and there lies the rub!