When I was a young mom with young kids, this “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer was an easy, sing-song bedtime prayer for 3 year olds. I remember having conversation with other moms debating the gloom and doom of the last line. What 3 year old wants to go to sleep in a new big kid bed, with a nightlight creating dinosaur shadows, with last words of “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”?
This is the time of AOL and dial up internet and one mom found the alternative lines of “may Angels watch me through the night and wake me with the morning light”. Yet even then, a kid who thinks some angel with a sword like St. Michael watching them sleep is a bit inauspicious.
Fortunately, I am not three so it never scared me. Not that is was my go-to prayer but I actually found comfort that I could sleep peacefully knowing I was in my Father’s hand.
That is until I had a stroke.
Of course death is a certainty of life but we don’t dwell or fear it until it stares you in the face. And that’s the thing about fear…..it isn’t scary at all until it becomes personal. (Kind of like public speaking, dental work, jumping out of airplanes- it’s all well and good until it’s your turn). And this death thing had become very personal. Not just for me – but the welfare of my husband and kids. I mean – what would they do without me? The house would probably fall apart, with no food, stinky clothes, foul mouths, greasy hair….. right?!? No, that’s not true I know but I am most definitely not ready to leave them!
I stare death in face and I’m not laughing. I am very scared.
My memories run like this: I fell out of my car in the ER parking lot laying there paralyzed from the neck down until some (angel) found me. I said to her ” I think I’m going to die” to which she replied not on my watch. My next memory is a week? or so later being unloaded at Brooks Rehab late at night scared out of my mind!!!! I had no real concept of what happened, who I was, who were “they”, or where I was. Not to mention I couldn’t feel or move half my body! I was so afraid to sleep, so afraid, thinking if I fell asleep I would die. And for 3 or 4 days I didn’t sleep: if I should die before I wake. I wasn’t ready.
Something that once comforted me now scared the heck out of me – like a three year old in a new bed seeing creepy shadows on the wall and hearing strange things in the night.
We all know sleep is vital to health in general but with a brain recovery such as what I was about to face, I needed sleep for resting and especially for healing. After a million questions and much coaxing, I let them prescribe me a drug and dosage that I, “Dr. Sonia”, approved of! And I slept. And it was so wonderful. Now I couldn’t be ‘afraid’ to go to sleep because it was forced on me but I still had a lot of anxiety during the coming days just thinking about it: not sleeping but death.
I have cheated death before. Once when I was 20, a second time in 2008 after an at home miscarriage (my fourth) that I thought I could handle and here I was at deaths door again- 3rd times a charm huh?! I knew if I didn’t learn some real life lessons and start asking myself some real tough questions, I may not get another chance at this beautiful thing called life.
…to be continued