What to do in the middle of the night, when you cannot sleep:

Make of myself an offering

It is the night before the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing on 10/10/10. Seven years ago, a night in which my husband and I slept side by side after sitting next to Mom for hours. I woke pre-dawn to the phone call from the nurse on the cell phone under my pillow that the time was near. We slipped out of the house quietly to sit with Mom, across from each other, her in between, singing and breathing, rubbing lavender oil in to her hands, which we held, watching until her last breath. And the next last breath. Then no more.

I marvel at the variety of days I have had since that peculiar one when what was steady in my entire life altered, permanently, from form to dust and I became something I didn’t expect which is matriarch or something more than the eldest.

So many days have passed since my mother’s death.

I have lain awake plotting how I will honor her today. Considering if I should get up and write, so a post would arrive in your email at about the same time that she left. Or if sleep would come, I could live the story to tell you later.

But it is this time awake while the world sleeps,

before dangerous tweets stream across our news feed, before the birds rouse with sweet singing, before meditation and writing, before tea and teeth-brushing, before all I might do on a day…that carries story. What happens when it is only raw humanness stuck in the thicket of thought, tossed by memory, and thick with excitement for what lies ahead.

If I sort it out now, word after word, I can lay momentum to the power that won’t let me sleep. I can order the thoughts enough to harness them briefly, succinctly.

When I cannot sleep, when the oncoming day bears a story that begs, where memory joins the present, the result is the choice to tell it. This is what I call rising forth. I might as well call it this because anything else would clamp closed my heart.

Mom dozing in her chair listening to Sunday services on the radio. Sleep was easy that day.

Today is the day I remember my mother, Joanne Ruth Schauer Banks Schmeling.
I will live this day as I lived the day she left, constantly reminded of light that edges in on dark days. How moments change from tyranny to trust when I let the story that nags telling be told.



Mom and Suzi on her wedding day. No sleep this day.

She was my mother. She is still my mother.



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