I know someone who went on vacation and when she came home after a week in paradise she found her kitchen was destroyed because a hot water pipe exploded in her dishwasher. The paint on her walls literally peeled off. Everything on the first floor of her home had melted and was destroyed. I know someone who has a young daughter fighting multiple tumors in her body. The family gets a season of glee when the scan results are "all clear" followed by a season of "it's back and has spread". Their reality is a constant state of fear and as optimistic as the parents appear to be, their little girl's future is not a certainty. I know someone who moved cross country for a job, way back in 2008, only to lose the job three months later and hasn't had solid employment since. These stories always happen to someone else it seems, until they happen to you or someone you know. I spent the last week visiting two people in the hospital, two people that mean the world to me, my husband and my ninety-two year old grandmother. The good news is that they've both been released and are the mend, but for that one week, I felt like one of those people. Unbelievable stress. I didn't realize how little stress I had in my life until I had almost too much stress to handle. One hospital holding two loved ones at the same time. Different floors, different maladies, same tear at my heart.
Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep? It happens to all of us at one time or another (usually around a full moon for me), but have you suffered insomnia for an entire week? What are the family members of the Washington state mudslide victims doing to fall asleep? Or the family members of the lost souls on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Seriously, I want to know, how do they sleep at night? My week of stress happened to coincide with the five days I was covering shifts for two people at work. Each day I worked until six o'clock, then spent the evenings at the hospital desperately appearing to be optimistic and present. Sleeping pills weren't an option because I didn't want to risk oversleeping. And as anyone who has gone through this can tell you, showing up at work day in and day out can be a welcome distraction from your personal drama. At work I was focusing on others, doing my job, getting stuff done. At home I'd wake up at four in the morning, and I was alone and scared. I thought of watching television or reading, but mostly I just laid in bed and tried to not think at all.
My husband is now back at home and doing better each day, and my grandmother, who I've spoken to almost every day for the last decade, will be home in the new few weeks. For those reasons and more I'm eternally grateful. My week of stress is tiny in comparison to what millions of people go through each and every day. It's a week I won't forget and hope will never happen again, but what about the people that live it every day? I know someone out there is going to wake up tonight and stay awake till dawn. Thankfully that person will not be me.