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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Showing 20 comments
  • Nancy Laulicht Seibel

    Blessings and love to you on this day, Suzi.

    • Suzi

      Thank you Nancy! And to you in return. xoS

  • Janet

    That last paragraph. EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING is what that is.

    • Suzi

      Thank you JRE. You were at my shoulder last night. xoS

  • Barb Buckner Suárez

    Deep love for you in this day Suzi. The picture of you you and your Mom made my heart catch on my throat. XO

    • Suzi

      Thank you BBS. I love that picture. It was the end of our wedding day. Most of the guests had left. JNB is in the background of that photo in his bathing suit, headed to the pool. Mom and I just could not stop grinning. We wandered around the yard where the wedding had happened. She picked up stones or scraps and throw them in to the bushes. I just leaned in to the air that was so full of joy. I love that we lived that day together, Mom and me. It is ripe fall here, Barb. Just like when we met. I think of you when I look at these golden leaves. Lots of love, S

  • Daniel

    Love you, Suzi. I honor you and your sweet mom…. So much sweet sadness these days. Good to share some of it… xoxoox

    • Suzi

      If only we could share it where I could see you better. DHJ, I fear I won’t see you before I leave for Armenia. Yes, this sadness deserves a voice. Won’t you sing something for me today? Lovelovelove, S

  • Virginia McGuire

    Her sweet spirited love surely shows in your writing and story. The love lives on and on. I remember when my mother passed all of us, 4 brothers and myself, my husband and their wives were all gathered at her home. It was a cozy cottage house amidst large trees that held us quietly as we waited and helped midwife as we could as her next steps. When the rose, off she flew. I honor the journey of a mother’s souls. Thank you for this note, it honors and is a testament to mother/daughter love!xxO

    • Suzi

      So good you have that story solidly in your heart Virginia. Thank you for sharing it here. Lots of love to you today too. xoxoS

  • Susan Heffron Hajec

    I’ve always loved that photo. What a way with words you have here. I’ve made this a domestic day for me as I’ve been really crunched in on my own story with lots of professional help through Janet’s class; however it is a swirl of reorganization and rewrite now and doubts surfacing I must face. This also calls to mind my absence of being states away from the mom who raised me at her death when my first choice was to be with her. Open heart hurts today. This post is beyond precious. I will take to making beds and folding laundry.

    I am going to share this on Facebook if I can figure it out. Love and kisses on your journey.

    • Suzi

      Thank you Susan for your words here and your steady presence on your blog. I love feeling your momentum pick up. The more you write the more you, well, write! Much love to you for reading me here. xoS

  • Brece

    A divine tribute. Like the light you write of. Like the wind that wafts in the window. Like the love you that you share. XO dear one.

  • Katherine LeDuc

    Peace to you today, Suzi. I remember your mother with great fondness. She always took the time to make me reach for something higher (I remember especially her getting me reading materials on my level (10th grade) when I was in her sixth-grade class– and her teaching the girls in the class some basic cooking. )

    • Suzi

      Oh Kathy, thank you for reading me here. You are one of the holders of many memories of my mom. Thank you for cherishing them! Lots of love, S

  • Virginia McGuire

    * onto * the sun rose – was typing on the run. Lots of love!

  • Maggie Dillon Katz

    “She was my mother. She is still my mother.” My breath stopped when I read this line and saw the stunning photo of you in your wedding dress and all that is says and all the mystery it asks. Thank you, Suzi for sharing and how you live these liminal poignant moments – particularly in the night. It inspires me as do you. I’m going to try to harness those sleepless hours I too often have in the middle of the night “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.”

    Love to you and your place as Mother as you recall your own Mother.

    • Suzi

      And I look forward to comes of that late night writing Maggie. Something calls us awake. Some nights, I can answer. Much love to you for reading me here. xoS

  • nancy moon

    Oh Suzi, how beautiful this post is. I love it all, especially the line “I will live this day as I lived the day she left, constantly reminded of light that edges in on dark days.” Mothers are so special. Have a wonderful time in Armenia. Love, Moon