Insomnia and the Weight of Memories: A Nighttime Reflection

As I lay here at near to three in the morning, struggling to fall back asleep, and after having labored over the last three nights to even find sleep, I’m left feeling not only fatigued; but dejected, sore, chilled and in an odd way, lonely.

Sometimes peace feels so distant from me. Adrenaline beleaguered my veins mere minutes ago for no justifiable, nor contextual reason at all — I hate that.

It’s as though my body is waiting for the tones to go off. Or should the house creak, crack, or crawl, my ears hear the overhead of dispatch telling us where to go…but there is nowhere to be…there is no call to respond to…it just ends up with me standing in a blackened room with empty hands and a racing mind. I hate that, too.

It started with my dog, his nails scratching the hardwood of our bedroom floor — something about that sound, and his whimper evoked a startle response from inside of me, I bounced from bed, confused, enraged and rudderless.

I castigated him, and coaxed him back to bed, and I’ve been awake ever since…

The scratching of nails to the floor forced a recall of a memory that I despise. And the high-pitched whimper only served to add to the discomfort of that said remembrance.

Now, as I rest on my back trying to be quiet and still, so as not to disturb my Sheena, my right foot recalls a most uncomfortable clutch — the dreaded grasp from an old woman’s dying hand…

The day I met her she was lain on the cold linoleum floor of a care home. At some time in the early morning hours she had gone into cardiac dysrhythmia. A call had been placed to 9-1-1, and subsequently myself and my partner had been tasked with responding. On arrival the old woman, who had been placed on the floor by the staff of the care home, was still moving and even eerily peering around the room — her eyes locked right on to mine. This is a sight not easily dismissed.

As both my partner and I readied to intervene, a small voice called out informing us that there was a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in place. We are required to see that document, so my partner asked for it forth-fucking-with.

It was retrieved and handed to me. As I began navigating the document, learning what we were legally allowed to do versus not do, the old woman’s chilled, clammy hand began tapping against the top of my boot. Her movements were non-purposeful, but the encounter was no less jarring. For the most fleeting of moments, I felt as though she was begging for my help — help that was legally binded to be forbidden. Once more her face and features met with mine…I watched an old woman die on the floor that day. The whimper of her final breath was near deafening.

Nothing makes you feel as insignificant as death when you are the one tasked with trying to thwart it — and that feeling is only exacerbated when holding onto a green folder with orders to stand and do nothing.

For the remainder of that day I felt the claw of that old woman’s hand “click” the top of my boot. The nails of her other hand “clacked” against the linoleum of which she lay. It’s a sound not easily forgotten.

And this night, at near to three in the morning…it has come back to me, all because my dog needed to innocuously shift position within the bedroom. I scolded him, and now I’m left feeling like the biggest piece of shit in the world.

I’m near to three in the morning…but I assure you that I am nowhere near to peace.

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