"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
June 08, 2015
Unsleep Thoughts
by Kathryn H. Kidd

At my advanced age, there's nothing I like better than a good night's sleep.  Nothing makes me feel better than a solid eight to nine hours of uninterrupted slumber.

But most nights, one of my pesky organs (usually my bladder) will wake me from my sweet, sweet dreams, for another task that it considers being more urgent — as if there were anything more urgent than my coveted beauty sleep.

When that happens, I try to perform the request task with much speed, scrambling back into bed and back to dreamland as soon as possible. For I have found that the longer I am awake, the more likely it is that my mind will be invaded by those dreaded unsleep thoughts. 

It will start with one innocent notion, such as, "You need to remember to pay that bill tomorrow."  If I allow my mind to drift into the unsleep world, this thought will be followed by a second unwanted idea, something like, "It might be a good idea to call Kim tomorrow and see if her sick cat is any better."  Then, perhaps I'll hear, "You need to send out the invitation for our next Family Home Evening group meeting."

Hopefully by this time, I am safely under the covers and trying to return to my blessed slumber.  If I have not partaken of the cursed unsleep fruit, I can usually do so.  But more often than not, an entire avalanche of unsleep ideas is now cascading over my helpless mind. 

I often wonder, “Is my brain is getting better, or if am I starting to slide into dementia? Back when “Pam” did her magnets on me she said she cured me of the Alzheimer’s I don’t have yet but was going to get one of these days. What if she didn’t?”

"I need to look at my calendar and see if any birthdays are coming up this week. What in the world can I get Dick? Dick has everything in the world. Maybe I can make him something. What could I make him that any human being would want?" 

"It would be fun to have half of a nice fat yam for dinner tomorrow. Do we have any?"  "If we don't have yams, maybe Fluffy can run to the store tomorrow."  "While he's at the store, he can get us some artichokes because they are coming into season."  "He can get some of that new flavor of ice cream too."  "I hope that is a permanent flavor, and not just one that will be around for the summer." 

"I can't believe that it's summer already.  This year is certainly flying by."  "Summer means the usual parade of graduation parties and weddings. I think Kev is getting married this month. I know he asked for my address, but I haven't seen the invitation yet. I hope it didn't get lost in the mail. I wonder what we can get him for a present. He’s an artist so I have to be careful that it’s tasteful enough." 

“I can’t believe how weird that doctor was last week. All he had to do was give me a handout about acid reflux or tell me to research it on the internet. He never even said the words. I had to hear them at the temple. I can’t believe he didn’t read the one-page handout about my medical history before he walked into the room. Things like that upset me so much. Why do I go to doctors, anyway?”

You get the idea.  It's like those old cartoons where you see the snowball rolling down the hill, getting bigger and bigger each second.  As items get into the path of the unrelenting snowball, you soon see not only snow, but an assortment of hats, skis, gloves, Saint Bernards, arms, legs, and trees. Sleep has fled. I am firmly in the land of unsleep.

At this point the pre-coma Kathy would have quietly sneaked out of bed, turned on the computer, and gotten to work checking off all of those tasks. She might have been distracted by a computer game or two, too. Computer games are always fun, and during the day I don’t have time to play them.

But the new Kathy has no such freedom.  Before I get out of bed, eyedrops need to be put in. Arms and legs need to be powdered. Knee-high stockings need to be put on or my legs will be swollen all day. I can’t sit willy-nilly at the computer without those stockings on!

And the shoes have to go on too. Now that I’m paralyzed, those feet have to be shod because I need the traction. If I try to stand up without the shoes, the feet will slide like I’m on ice — even if I’m on carpet. No, I have to get the shoes on as well as the socks. Little Miss Kathy does not go barefoot anymore.

Maybe I could postpone the eye drops and the powder, but the socks and the shoes would have to be put on before I could even get out of bed. And I cannot put those things on by myself.

No, even a four-year-old can put on her own shoes and socks, but Kathy, Queen of the Universe, cannot get out of bed without having her shoes and her socks put on by her husband and full-time Perpetual Employee of the Month, Fluffy.  I am as helpless as a two-year-old — except, of course, that when I was a two-year-old I was unlocking the door to our house and going next door and eating breakfast with the neighbors.

Having uncooperative feet is the sort of thing that makes sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night just a little bit iffy. No, it makes any sneaking whatsoever downright impossible. So I am trapped like a rat in the land of unsleep.

I can almost hear the thousands of tiny night spiders spinning their cobwebs, ready for us to admire them in the morning. Those tiny night spiders do not take me unaware, because I am in the land of unsleep.

I cannot grab my Kindle. It is only twenty inches away, and it is taunting me. But Fluffy has his arm firmly around me, and if I reached out to grab my Kindle, I would awaken him. I do not want to do that. My unsleep status is not his fault.

“Should we give Ben and Katt a wedding shower? Would Ben and Katt want a wedding shower? Last time we gave a wedding shower for a couple it was so successful that a stake presidency counselor and a high councilman almost got into fistcuffs during the white elephant exchange over a book about the history of the fart. The only way I talked them down was to buy an extra copy of the book for the high councilman.”

That is how successful our couple’s wedding showers are!”

“Maybe we should do it again.”

“I wonder if Amazon has any more of those books about the history of the fart. What was it called? Blame it on the Dog? That’s it! I’ll order one in the morning. Even if Ben and Katt don’t want a wedding shower, we should always have one on hand, just in case there is a surprise white elephant exchange.”

“I wonder what we’re having for lunch tomorrow. I really do like those yams. I wonder if we have any yams.”

And around and around it goes.

And then, amidst thoughts of yams and night spiders, I remember that God is also here, and I stop to think about what is really important.

Our days are a mishmash of activities and thoughts as we go from one place to another. At night we cease those activities. We still our thoughts. We are left alone.

Sometimes when we awake in the dead of night, our minds focus back on the mundane. We think of silly things. But if we push away these distractions like cobwebs, we can be left alone with sacred things. We can have precious moments of communion with God, who is the Author of these nighttime moments.

Perhaps it was He, and not my bladder or a cramped muscle, Who awoke me in the first place. Perhaps He wanted to say hello, and this was the only time I could hear Him. It’s sad, isn’t it, that the world He made for us is so noisy that the only time it is quiet enough for him and me to have a conversation is when everyone else in the world is quietly, soundly asleep.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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