On falling asleep and waking up

Each day, we fall asleep. Each day, we wake up.

Sometimes we struggle to fall asleep, our thoughts preventing us from nodding off. Sometimes we wake up grumpy, hair tied in knots, baring our fangs at the rising sun.

Sometimes we fall asleep easily, barely remembering our head even hitting the pillow. Sometimes we wake up ready to take on the day. As soon as we have breakfast, of course.

Our lives are full of memories of falling asleep and waking up.

I remember falling asleep next to my brother when we were little and shared a bed. We would write messages on each other’s back with our fingers and the other would have to guess what is was. Important messages such as “Boogers are tasty” and “You smell like a fart.” Eventually we would fall asleep, best friends then as we are now.

I remember waking up on the first day of a new school year. The nervous excitement of impending new classes, new people, new experiences.

I remember falling asleep in my bed my first night as a student at Indiana University, still overwhelmed by feelings of freedom and adventure and the overall bigness of a major university campus.

I remember waking up on Sept. 11. Immediately finding out what happened. A scared roommate wondering whether he would be shipped off to war. An unsettling feeling that nothing would be quite the same again.

I remember falling asleep after my first kiss with my wife. Smiling. Oh, so much smiling.

I remember waking up in a hotel room with my wife the morning after our wedding many years later. Still smiling. Oh, so much smiling.

I remember falling asleep after finding out my wife was pregnant. I was in a good amount of pain. I had twisted my neck that week and could not get comfortable. But, despite the pain, I fell asleep happy that night.

I remember waking up after the night I held my two-day old son in my arms along with my wife as he died.. The emptiness. The loneliness. The feeling as if I still were dreaming. The knowing that I wasn’t.

I try not to remember the restless nights after that. I played my podcasts loudly as I went to sleep, hoping that an explanation of how tsunamis work would drown out my thoughts.

I remember waking up on Aug. 24, what should have been his first birthday. I immediately got up, walked into his nursery and sat on the chair that I never got to rock him in.

Tonight, as I fall asleep, I most likely will be listening to the Cubs game, taking joy in the little things, such as hopefully hearing Pat Hughes make a Cubs home run call as I drift to sleep.

And tomorrow, I will wake up and try to be positive. Looking forward to the future. Missing my son, but determined to carry his strength with me through the day until it’s time to fall asleep once more.

• Write to Joe Grace at joewriter81@gmail.com. Learn when new blogs are posted by liking the Facebook page.

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