I am usually worn out soon after I clean up dinner, but I try to extend the day into the night. I don’t want to go to bed until I am sufficiently used up and ready to sleep. Some nights, there is a certain sense of relief that the day is ending when the food has been put away and the dishes are cleared. Yet, it’s a long way until bedtime. My body responds to cues that sleep is approaching such as the setting sun. Darkness falls early in the winter. The cold weather takes a tighter grip on my spastic muscles. Sleep is the only time I feel relief from this relentless tension. I keep myself busy after dinner with as much physical work as I can, hoping for the exact state of fatigue necessary to fall asleep for the night. I don’t enjoy spending time in bed lying there thinking about every bad decision I’ve ever made. I like to get right to sleep. The physical struggle of living with a disability seems to help in this regard.
When I feel my work is done for the day, I start winding down ahead of time for sleep. After I “close up the cave” by checking the doors are locked and leaving the outside lights on, I go to my bedroom where the light is lower from the glow of my Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp. I wash up and change into pajamas.
She usually stays near the kitchen for a while, on alert for the possibility of falling food. I call her, but she doesn’t come. I leave my door slightly ajar in anticipation. I do some reading before I turn off the lights and tuck myself in. I wait patiently. I try to sleep, but I know I won’t until she comes.
Most nights I am awake long enough to hear the tap, tap tap of her little feet as they trot toward my door. I hear the door being pushed open as she trots into my bedroom. Maybe a few snorts escape from her nose. She lightly pads her way up the plush set of steps next to the tall bed. She has a definite path toward the head of the bed where she walks over the pillows, then burrows her way under the covers and down the length of my torso before coming to rest with her back right up against my backside. She feels warm and soft. Sometimes she squeaks a little as she quietly sighs and wiggles around to get comfortable. This is our regular routine, but on occasion I fall asleep before she gets there then I wake up later and find her in her spot.
It is when Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, our 7 pound chihuahua has burrowed in for the night that I can finally get to sleep.