I sunk to my knees on the cold almost frosted tile patio, my chest heaving up and down as I gulped in air and tried to swallow it slowly. My head is loud, like the late summer night when the cicadas are all saying goodbye at once. There is no singular thought in my mind leading this mental revolt, sometimes the loudest voice is the one reminding me to pick up coffee on my way home from work the next day so that I will not have to run back out after ballet class, other times it is the part of me that wants to sob with collapsing self- pity. As dawn creeps in I breathe in the cold to clear my head in search of a quiet rest.
The week between chemo weeks is the week that saves me. It physically lets my body recover and it mentally refreshes me with a big dose of normalcy. The hardest part of this week is chasing after sleep. As the drugs wear off and I awake to the reality that I left behind, a weeks’ worth of ignored and forgotten voices clamor for attention and they will not be silenced, not by drugs, not by wine and certainly not by my exhausted whispers. So I lie awake, most nights into the early morning. I lie awake a prisoner to the racing thoughts inside my head.
I realize that in the grand scheme of things, not being able to sleep is about as important as my husky cat pushing my coffee mug off of its precarious perch on the sofa arm as a notification to me that head butts mean providing attention with more immediacy.
There are far more serious things to worry about. I realize, as I pound the keys on my computer, that whining about being sleepy is well, it is simply whining. I have a week between chemo where I bounce back. I have a week before chemo where I drink wine and I exercise and I go to work and when I get home, I turn juice boxes into paper turkeys. I have a week between chemo where balance is restored and my heart feels full. I have a week between chemo where sleep alludes me as I mentally try to make certain I make up for what was missed the week before and prepare for the week to come.
As my dear husband lies beside me with his chest rising and falling steadily, I hate myself for hating his rhythmic satisfying breathing, knowing that he needs the rest, as much, if not far more than me. He shoulders so very much of this battle alone and without complaint. He holds our family together and wraps us all in his arms in a love that in almost unfathomable, yet as he dreams beside me, I want to reach over and steal the contented rest that he has found and slather it over myself.
This morning I am exhausted, I am so very tired but I can handle being tired. It is not ideal and as I experiment with hot teas, pharmaceuticals and soaking baths in search of a quiet rest, I know that this too shall pass. I know that one day soon I will look back on this smiling because I am on the other side. One day soon I will look back on this in the early morning hours and my eyes will not burn with weariness. My stomach will not churn discontentedly.
No, one day very soon I will wake early to my Bean sneaking into my room with the dog as daylight struggles to creep in and I will not mind the early morning because this will all be a distant memory. I will turn on Curious George and pull my family close and I will sleepily smile with contentment almost unable to recall the nights where I chased sleep into the rosy-fingered dawn.