I've always been a great sleeper. There have been a few periods where my sleep was troubled, but I worked my way out of them, by getting older and by talking myself into sleep.
It's amazing though, how even in the darkest, hardest parts of my sister dying, I still could sleep. Even sleeping alone in the very room she died in (she died at home) on the day she died and for the week following. I'm so grateful for that. I needed the rest to then wake up to deal with all the unrest.
When I was really little, just after my parents got divorced, I remember having fire dreams for a while. I would dream our stove was on fire. I would dream the playground at my school was on fire. Scary stuff for a 1st/2nd grader. Mom always soothed me and I would go back to sleep. Later, after we moved to Maui and I was about nine or ten, I remember waking up and sort of half sleep walking around, convinced that my mom was gone. I would knock on Jen's door, asking her where mom was. I don't know if I actually knocked or spoke loud enough to wake Jen. Maybe she said "Shut up, go back to sleep!" as most older sisters would do, and I would. That lasted for a few days (or was it week?) I don't even know if I told Mom about it after. (Hmmm, I should email her today...)
In college I was on the crew team and we had to be up early. Some years it was 5am that the alarm went off. One year it was 4:45. When sleep is that precious, you learn to go to bed as early as you can and to fall asleep as fast as you can. And as we said at parties, while (always) talking about crew: best feeling in the world (besides sex)? Waking up at 2am and realizing you could go back to sleep for another few hours. I slept well in college. (Plus I was a film major so I never had to be up all night studying.)
When I had my first serious job (Alien 3) I was stressed out. Not only was it a big job, but it was the first time I was working as a production coordinator. So every day was something new. I found myself lying awake at night, fretting, stressing about all there was to do. I don't know how I got so mature but finally after a few nights or weeks of this, I started talking to myself. I would say "Look, there is a lot to do, yes, but you can't do a thing about it until tomorrow when you get to work. Unless you are going to get dressed and go into the office and do all the things you are concerned about, stop thinking about it and go to sleep." And after a few nights of that, I realized it was true and went to sleep easily from then on.
I'm so glad I figured that out. That little mantra has come in handy so often.
Yesterday I talked a lot about Jen and last year and all that stress and pain and grief. I spoke with one work-colleague who I hadn't seen in a while, but who knew about what had happened, so we caught up. And I was fine, no tears, just talking. Then while waiting for another meeting, I saw another work colleague who I hadn't see in about two years. We sat and chatted, he showed me baby pictures of his new girls and he asked about what was going on with me, asking "Weren't you living in Mexico City or something?" I said "Man, that was like two lifetimes ago!" and he was startled and said, "Why? You're still married aren't you?!?!" and we laughed and I said yes, then said how last year was so bad. And I wasn't going to launch into the whole thing, but he looked at me, kind and friendly, this was a guy I worked really well with and we always had a great laugh together. Suddenly, the tears had to come and I just laughed a bit and said "My sister died last year." And then apologized for crying (which seems so right at the moment, but then later I wonder, why apologize? Wacky.)
It's so amazing how you can keep your shit together in some situations then not long after, with just the right person who you know cares about you, even if you haven't seen them in two years, there's no holding back.
The day was long and lots of emotions were stirred up. Mostly about Jen, but also I had to take the cats to the vet to take care of a few minor problems. They are both fine, but both getting a bit older. Bunny is 16 now and while she's in great shape, has fewer years to go. If I were an actress and needed one thing to trigger tears, thinking about Bunny not being around would do it every time.
So I got home, had some dinner, then Kurt got home and I got into bed around 9:30 and was asleep by a bit after ten. Normally I might wake up around 2:00 and look at the clock and go "YES!" and go back to sleep. Once I fell asleep, I don't remember a thing until my alarm was going off. I was genuinely surprised to have slept so hard.
I forgot that grief is exhausting, even for a great sleeper like me.