Thursday, March 4, 2010


Cami growls at anyone who comes near me when I'm sleeping. From her post beside me, with her head on my pillow, my german shephard/lab guards me faithfully. Even when my bestfriend lived with me and would crawl into bed for a late night chat, Cami would growl softly and look to me. There is something about me sleeping, about lying down in my bed that Cami senses is vulnerable. I am weak and so my dog is protective.

And we are so very weak when we sleep.

Our faces are slack, and so the way we set our jaw, narrow our eyes, all the non-verbal signs we give others as warning or invitation- all that is gone when we lay still for 8 hours.

If aliens or angels visited us, they must think us so odd. To be so busy, busy; teeming streets; speeding cars and throbbing malls and then stillness and silence. For half our life, half our day. We crawl onto cotton and leave our defenses to electronics or faith or pets.

Our skin is soft, clad in night clothes or nothing at all. Our sight is darkened, mind ruminating elsewhere, spinning and whirring and shelving memories and experiences of the day. Crud coats our eyes and scum creeps over our tongue and inaction dulls our muscles.

(And what terror, to be asleep in our beds when a stranger walks about our house. Someone {but no, not 'someone' a person, living, breathing, with stories and a past} broke into my home a few weeks ago. I was out of town and my room mate Doireanne was asleep in her bed. A sound woke her up; foreign footsteps and she called the police. Her mind must have been so groggy and terror sharpened her. They heard her voice and dove out the same window they crawled in through. And what separates a person who runs away from one who attacks?)

Sleep. Our heart beats deep and even.

But mine doesn't.

A few nights a week, (last week- every night) my heart wakes me up in the middle of the night, and again in the morning. Rapid, staccato beats that startle me with a gasp, or heavy, slow pounds that echo in my ears.

I open my eyes and sometimes Cami wakes up, too. She senses my fear and growls sleepily, sniffing the room. Sometimes she'll take a tour of the house and whine to be let outside. A lap around the house, a jaunt down the street, and she'll come back, looking at me reproachfully.

Cami's process will calm me down a bit, my heart will even out and I'll lie back in bed. 'What is wrong with you?' I ask my heart.

When Cami doesn't wake up, I open my eyes in the dark and pull the covers more tightly around me. Fear presses in around me. But criminals are not crawling through the kitchen, the intruder is myself. I don't know what to say to this heart of mine. 'You are loved, it's okay, it's okay' I repeat to it over and over again. I feel as though I am comforting a small child that has crawled into my bed, murmuring about nightmares and monsters. Or maybe I am trying to lull the monster itself to sleep. Fear is a slave master, exhausting and insatiable.

I think of God, of faith and trust and I show these things to my heart. "You are loved, you are loved,' I say over and over again until I fall asleep.

But then I wake up again and Cami is growling and I get out of bed so she can protect me.

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