Monday, January 14, 2013

Up All Night


Hope your week is going well so far. I can hardly believe we're already into the third week of January. I don't know about you, but it just doesn't seem possible!

In this post, I mentioned that I'm taking a writing e-course by author Laurie Wagner.  We're in week two of the course, which so far prompts students to slow down and pay attention to what's around us every day. Especially the simple, small things that we could easily discard. Writers are collectors of moments. We're meant to pay attention. 

One of our homework assignments was to document an experience, in detail, that we had during the week. I thought I would share it with you. It gives you a bit of a glimpse into what late night/early is like at my house, with Myanmar-life mixed in. 

* Up All Night * 
That second latte at 6pm kept me buzzing well past 3am, but she had gone to bed hours ago.  It was cold enough I turned off the air conditioner, and the house was hushed.  Both rarely happen. 

It also rarely happens that I’m completely alone in a room. No one interrupting.  No one needing me to: listen to their new plan; give them a cup of water or make them dinner; have a chat while I take a piss; or to find the pink blanket required for sleep.  Just silence.  Even the boisterous karaoke party at the nearby golf course had ended.   

With a hot mug of tea sitting happily near my mouse, I wrote.

While writing, I occasionally heard a stray dog strain its croaky bark and another answer back with a yelp. Satisfied with their exchange, they’d go quiet.   I was so focused writing, documenting my very own plans for the year, the deep, low donging and murmured chanting from one of the Buddhist monasteries up the street barely registered.   

“My god,” I thought. “It must be nearly morning.”  It still seemed black out.  I didn’t want to know what time it really was; my monitor was still bright, illuminated, taunting me to stick around a little bit longer, to write more.  How could I refuse, especially with the gift of stillness around me; but life is fluid, changing. Nothing stays the same.

Like a shadow emerging slowly from dawn, I felt something.  A presence.  Then, there she was: shuffling her bare little feet, hair wild, eyes crazed in half-sleep, clutching her worn, pink blanket.  Mommm,” she whimpered, running to me, throwing her full six-year-old self onto my lap, arms wrapped tightly around my neck.  “I had a bad dream. A wreally, wreally, bad one.”

Her chest heaved and rattled as her shoulders shivered.  She buried her head in my neck while I rocked her on the computer chair. “Hussssshhhh, it’s OK,” I whispered. 

She didn’t want to tell me what the bad dream was all about, but eventually, between gulps of air, gasped, “I lost you, mom. I lost you.”  She pressed her cheek against mine, slowly rubbing it like a cat.  I didn’t want to stop holding her.

I wanted to tell her she’d never lose me. That I’d always be there; but that’s a lie: one day (hopefully when I’m old and ready), she will lose me. Why I think morbid thoughts in the middle of tender vulnerability, I don’t know. 

The monks began chanting at the neighbor’s gate, collecting their daily rice offerings. The light was coming.  And I lied. “It’s OK. You’ll never lose me, sweetie.  I’m here. I’m here.” 

When was the last time you were up all night?


  1. Hi Becky, loved your post. Oh that latte it must have been good though. :)

    For me if I drink coffee in the evening which is very rare then I might stay awake all night. It's also been almost a few years for me that I can barely go to bed before midnight, usually it's more like 2 am. I'm trying to 'force' change that in 2013. I need more sleep and forcing it might have to be the route to go.

    I hope that your daughter has forgotten about her nightmare. Poor little one. No fun because it can seem so real I'm sure.

    1. Ha! Yes, the latte was pretty good, Suzanne! :)

      Yes, I'm learning that no caffeine after 5pm should be my rule; but I break it often. Not so good.

      I'm also a night owl. I tend to do a lot of good work late at night, if I'm alone or it's very quiet. I understand the need for more sleep. Maybe we both need to force it? 11:30pm curfew? (OMG! Seems so early!)

  2. 34 year old son still calls me, when he has a bad dream about me! He doesn't admit it until I ask him. There's something in his voice that lets me know it! The 17 year old will climb into bed with me, if she has a bad dream. I'm not sure we can ever prepare them for the eventual loss; it is something I'm trying to still quiet my heart over after losing my Mum a year ago. I love the way you share your thoughts and experiences, they always resonate with me and brings back memories; so thank you for that and your wonderful writing!

    1. Hi Indigene!
      Awwww - that is so, so, so sweet that your son rings you when he has a bad dream about you! I think it says a lot about your relationship and how well you know him that you can pick up on it by his voice. That's really special.
      I love that your 17 year old climbs into bed with you after she has a bad dream. It always seems to me that you have such a close, loving family.

      I am so sorry to hear that you lost your mum a year ago. That must've been very difficult. I am sure you miss her often.

      Sending you lots of love!

  3. oh becky, those morbid thoughts get me all the time, sometimes in the middle of the day but always in the middle of the night. this agreement we've made to live this life is sometimes so fragile and seemingly futile as we all must leave the nest, create a nest of our own, and carry the awareness that one day we will leave, one day our children will leave, and that everyday parents and children have to leave and not always when one or the other is ready. everyday i just smile and breathe and give thanks for one more day.

    1. You're right, Valeri! I think that sometimes I forget to really appreciate what is happening in the moment, during the day and completely take advantage of the fact I think I'll be around forever (despite my morbid thoughts!). Our culture doesn't do well to prepare us for this reality of loss. I'm learning more about some of the Buddhist cultures and how they actually do much better at grief and dealing with it, accepting it, honoring it, acknowledging it, than we do. None of it makes it easy though, does it?!?


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