Rhonda Cagle

In the Wee Small Hours

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 7:46 am

My friend, Linda, recently wrote a blog about the sorts of things she ruminates about in the wee small hours of the morning. It got me thinking about my perpetual lack of sleep and propensity to do the same. The irony of coming across Linda’s blog when I was awake in the middle of the night was a cosmic joke not lost on me. But Linda’s blog was a welcome change to what usually interrupts my sleep. Lately, it’s been the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause who keep me company at night. Perhaps you know my friends… Sweaty, Weepy, Angry, Irrational, Tired, Hungry, and Forgetful. What was I saying?

Anyway.

At 3 AM, my mind is a strange and often scary place to be.  Scenes from what life was, what it is, and what it might be in the future all collide in a twisted amalgamation of hope, despair, joy, and dread. If I’m honest, the hope and joy parts shed just enough light to reveal the full terror of the despair and dread that presents itself at some point between midnight and 4 AM. Cognitively, I’m aware that these menacing shadows recede somewhat come daylight, but being ever so slightly neurotic, I find myself mucking about in places tangled and dark. Try as I might, I cannot seem to find answers or solutions or a way out and back to the blissful nothingness of sleep.

So I lay awake. And I think.

Sometimes I think about what life was. I remember laughter and warmth – the feeling of safety and security. Those days and that life feels a longtime gone now. All these years later, I still miss it – still miss him. More than I can say, I’m grateful for a new him and new experiences, but it’s not the same. It can’t be. The two hims are very different people.

So am I.

In the wee small hours, the person I’ve become often surprises me. I’ve always been cynical and sarcastic. But underneath all that was optimism, perhaps idealism, that somehow – someway – things would be okay. At three in the morning – hell, at three in the afternoon – I’m no longer so sure. Sometimes things aren’t okay. Sometimes things are broken and can never be repaired. Sometimes there are no answers. Sometimes, no matter how hard I try or pray… it’s not enough. In the middle of the night, this bothers me more than I can say.

It sucks that life is often not okay for me. But it’s a tragedy that it’s not okay for so many people. I think about the children I know who are living in poverty – one in every five in my state. I think about how our education system is failing them and how our state is gutting what little funding for education there is. I know the statistics, know what these children are doomed to through no fault of their own. And I wonder how in God’s name can people sit by and do nothing? I wonder what it will take for parents, grandparents, business owners and neighbors to be on the steps of the school house and the Capitol every day, demanding that we invest into our future, refusing to take no for an answer.

In the wee small hours, I see the faces of families who live in the shadow of fear. Children illegally brought to this country as babies now can’t get a driver’s license, a job, or a higher education. I know many children and young adults in this position. I spoke to one of them just this past weekend. Against odds I can’t imagine, they have worked hard in our schools to earn good grades. They want to contribute – to give back to the country they call home. Yet in our country and especially my state, they don’t have that option. What will become of them? As a nation, what will become of us if we don’t rise above our fear and create a place for these young adults?

As I burn the midnight oil, I’m often amused at the disparate and frequently contradictory thoughts that roll around in the abyss of my brain. At times, optimism still gasps breath and resurrects itself to speak words of hope. Citizens will rise up and vote down those who currently fill our state and country with fear-based leadership. Our country will remember the fair Lady who once welcomed “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to break free” and once again demonstrate a living embodiment of those sentiments. The death and brokenness that has defined so much of my last decade will give way to the dawn of a different and new love – a new future filled with purpose and hope.

But sometimes optimism sleeps so soundly, she cannot be roused and I am left alone in the land of the desolate. The economy will never recover. Mine is the first generation that can expect a lower standard of living than the previous one. The wheels continue to come off of America’s education system and countries that were once considered third world nations now outperform our students. In fact, we’re outsourcing our jobs to them. Love is merely an illusion and loss will continue to define my future, just as it has my past.

When optimism refuses to wake, 3 AM becomes a dreary, lonely place to be.

Thankfully, the sun comes up. Every morning by the grace of God, I am reminded that each day is a new day. Each day offers a place from which to begin again. And the night terrors that have left me frozen in fear are melted away in the warmth of a new dawn. I’m still tired. Still skeptical and cynical. Still not sure I can make it okay. But I’m determined to try.

So.

It’s just about time for the sun to come up.  Guess I better get to work on a new day.

 

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  1. We do live in parallel universes. I’m always happy to see the sunrise too, even though it normally means I haven’t slept all night. Apparently, we should just have middle of the night phone chats.

    Late night is always such a strange time for me. I’m most creative from about 11:00 pm to 2:00 am. But lately I’ve been pretty exhausted. I love my late night encounters with God. I hate my racing brain. Like you that’s the time of the day when the reality that I live each day smacks me full in the face and I wonder how I’ll be able to continue to make it. In my better moments I remember that God has always been faithful to walk with me through it all. Sometimes it’s scary though. That’s when I take a big breath, and work at putting one foot in front of the other. I do like the idea of pondering the things that run amuck in our brains together.

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