I haven't slept in 9.5 years.
I do not remember what it feels like to have enough sleep. I am tired all of the time. I used to have a reputation for being an impressive napper; I reveled in a lazy afternoon nap, the kind that you fall slowly into and rise slowly from, the kind that leaves you warm and relaxed and the purest kind of happy. I have a very vivid memory of walking into my room as a kid -- I was probably around 10 -- and seeing a pile of folded blankets on the floor. They looked so comfy, so inviting, just like that. I sat down and put my head down on them. Not bothering to unfold them and cover myself up, I simply drifted off to sleep sitting against them. The most vivid part of the memory is of waking up, of piece by piece returning to the waking world and being utterly delighted by my unexpected trip to dreamland.
I miss those days.
Over the past few years, I've heard more in the news about the effects of sleep deprivation, specifically on memory. I am a naturally scatter-brained person, and when you add 9+ years of no sleep, well, it's a wonder I remember my own name on most days. I really am quite forgetful. I forget to turn in permission slips; I forget to return library books; I forget to bring deposits with me to the bank. I forget the last batch of pancakes almost every time I make pancakes. I forget what I went upstairs to retrieve.
About a half hour before I pick the kids up from school, I gather up the items I need to bring with me -- maybe we have someone's uniform sweatshirt by mistake, or I have to turn in a parent hours form to the front office, or one of those ever-late permission slips, or progress reports -- and put them on the front seat of the car. Then, when I get to the school, I walk in and forget to bring those items with me.
When I do happen to get a decent amount of sleep, I immediately notice a difference in how I feel the next day; amazing, right? Now, if I could just string together about a month's worth of those nights, maybe my brain would start working again, which would be nice, since it seems to have been on vacation for the past several years. Once, while I was listening to Talk of the Nation, the host was giving a promo for the next day's show on sleep deprivation and memory. I planned on listening to it...but I forgot.
But sleep is alive and well in my household. At least five of us are, as I type, sleeping like babies, which one of them actually is.
Someday, I will sleep again. Someday, I will wake up rested. Someday, I will reclaim the title of Grand Napper.
Someday. For now, I'll have to settle for watching the little 'uns breath in and out, peacefully, contentedly, noisily sometimes, beautifully always.