I used to have insomnia all the time. The tiniest nit would need to be picked from late at night until early in the morning. I took pains to remember my father's advice when he saw me suffering through those sleepless nights, even as a kid: There's not a lot you can do about it now, so try and rest so you have the energy to take on the problem when the sun is out.
Which was good, practical advice. Such good advice, in fact, that I have passed it along at different times to my wife and my son when they have had difficulty sleeping. I feel as though this line has had enduring effect over the years, and recently I found myself lying awake wondering what the next day would bring. So I trotted out the old man's advice. I sat it down across the room with the hopes that just being in the presence of such fatherly wisdom would lull me off to dreamland.
No such luck.
I tried stretching it out to cover the anxiety I was feeling about COVID-19 and all the ways it was impacting my world. I wanted to use it as a comforter, a barrier, a way to ward off the evil spirits that hung around the hours past midnight.
It did not cover up all the stabbing and clanging going on in my head. No matter how hard I closed my eyes and wished for a moment's relief to just slip away, I was confronted by the omnipresence of this crisis. Every time I have cleared my throat in the past three weeks, I have waited for the rest of the symptoms to come piling on. Each day brings a new list of friends, family members and public figures falling prey to the disease that is defining us all right now.
There is no escape. There is no relief. Especially not in the middle of the night.
As an experienced insomniac, my panic level is pretty easy to maintain. I know that, just like Annie says, the sun will come up tomorrow. Which is fine because she's got Sandy and Daddy Warbucks to look after her. I'm trying to hold the center of my life right now, and it feels like it's coming unmoored. So I'll just drift a while. Maybe not to sleep, but into the next day. Where all this stuff will be waiting for me in the light.