The insomnia is back.
Not as bad as it was in January and February, but it's back -- off and on the past couple of weeks, on for a few days before I just shut down and switch off for a long night or two of rest. But then it comes back. It always does.
On nights like tonight, when I'm keyed up from a hard evening ride and I just want to relax, my mind starts to go. It used to be that I would just think about work, or racing, or sometimes family -- but now, there's really only one thing I think about. Especially today, when thanks to Facebook's long chain of messages, I found myself looking back on notes written in January to a very dear friend of mine who knew my Mom for a long time. She was one of the first people I called that week in January, when we were still fighting. And she was one of the first people I called when we lost.
For years, I had a great trick that would calm me enough to fall asleep: I used to visualize the start of races. Especially endurance mountain bike races, which typically start Le Mans style, with a run of some distance before we start jamming on the bikes. I'd set up the scenario in my head -- 24 Hours of Nine Mile was always a favorite -- and sure enough, by the time we rounded the corner, throwing elbows and trying to stay upright on our carbon-fiber wondershoes I was growing drowsy; by the time we hit Checkpoint Charlie I was fast asleep. I'm not sure I ever made it to Flower Trail.
That trick has eluded me for some time now. Instead, I find my mind wandering, and I find myself trying hard to think of a happy memory of Mom. I know that if I can find that one memory, I can hold onto it, and I'll be able to use it over and over on nights like tonight when what I find instead in my mind are sterile hospital rooms and beeping monitors and tubes that kept her alive but was it really alive? Or worse, that awful moment when Kim and I sat in the waiting room, the only ones there at the moment, and the door opened and the nurse asked for "The Strout family." Damn it! It was not supposed to be for us!
Or worse, much worse, the dark hours that followed that I try not to remember but can recall with exacting certainty. The hours -- the minutes -- when we had to say goodbye.
So I look for other memories instead. I'd really like to find one with Kate, because I know that after years of waiting, the surprise of another granddaughter took my Mom's breath away. Dear lord, did I really just write that? But you know what, it did. The first time she held Kate ... there. Finally. There's the memory. That's what I needed.