THE RAVELED SLEEVE OF CARE
It was one of those nights. First, I fell asleep on the sofa watching TV at 8:00 p.m. At 9:00 p.m. Art woke me up and gently guided me toward the bedroom. Like a sleepy child, I just managed brush my teeth and then gratefully slid under the covers. I slept peacefully while Art watched the ten o’clock news. Then the TV went off. It was now about 10:30. I had a hot flash.
Ladies – If you have reached a certain age, you know what I’m talking about. For the uninitiated, I’ll try to give you a brief description. Imagine that you are being roasted from the inside out. That’s a hot flash.
So at about 10:30 I woke up. Completely. Now I had to go through my little mantra, counting backwards from 100, which sometimes seems to help. “One hundred, ninety-nine, ninety. . .GOD I’M SO HOT”!!! (Toss, turn, nightgown off, covers off). “Ninety-one, no, ninety . . .Maybe I should open a window – But it’s so noisy out there! . . .Ninety-seven. . . I know! I’ll take a pill! Maybe that’ll help. Just knock myself out. But which pill? Pain pill P.M.? No, I’m not in pain. Allergy pill? Yeah, but sometimes it makes my heart race – and besides, they’re habit-forming. . . Just try counting backwards again. One hundred. . .”
And so it went for, I don’t know, maybe an hour? At some point, I fell asleep.
Two-thirty p.m. Time to tinkle. My eyes open reluctantly. “Oh God. I really don’t want to get up now. I know that once I’m vertical, it will take another hour to fall back to sleep. But what to do? If I don’t get up I’ll burst.” So to the bathroom. Then back to bed. Now semi-awake. Another hot flash. “ Great. I can’t take a pill now because if I do I won’t be awake until noon. Just count backwards, Robin. Try putting your hand in the ‘mudra’ the yoga teacher taught the other day. That’s it. Thumbs gently but firmly touching. That connects the two sides of the brain. There you go. No, it’s not working. Crap. Ninety-eight, ninety-seven . . . Namaste! Crap . . .” I look at the digital clock with the glow-in-the-dark numbers. Three forty-seven. (Toss, turn, wiggle, covers off, covers on). I look at the clock. Four 0-six.
“Alright. Just relax. Just lie here and rest. That’s almost as good as sleep. Eighty-nine, eighty-eight . . . Maybe I should get up and start my day. But if I don’t get some sleep I’m going to be bleary-eyed tomorrow. I’ve got to drive across town twice tomorrow. I don’t want to be on the road feeling that way! Eighty-seven . . . Eighty-seven . . . Eighty-seven . . .”
The clock says 5:30 a.m. Now I must get up and start my day. I lie there for one luxurious moment. A famous line from Macbeth comes to me: “Sleep, which knits the raveled sleeve of care”. I imagine my own raveled sleeve, gray, tattered, shop-worn, and then imagine a disembodied pair of needles (about a size 7), and this beautiful grayish-purplish hand-dyed wool, and the beautiful wooden needles slowly and methodically knitting all this mess together into a gorgeous whole. “Shakespeare”! I marvel. Then I am asleep.
© 2005, Robin Munson