At long last, Heather’s sleeping.
That sounds simple. It’s been anything but.
For a few weeks now, Heather’s bedtime routine has looked like a kung fu movie. Every few seconds, she kicks with a force that could shatter pine. Every few moments, her arms lash out with a speed that Bruce Lee would envy. Over and over, on and on for hours, long enough to clear even the largest army of unseen ninja.
All we’re missing is the bad voice dubbing.
As you’ve guessed, there’s no Hollywood contract involved. Heather’s multiple sclerosis sometimes unwraps surprise gifts for us, and this has been one of the most unwelcome to unwrap. Call it myoclonus. Call it restless leg syndrome amped up to warp factor 5. Call it whatever you want, but please call it from long distance – you don’t want it visiting the house.
Not unless you like getting about five hours of sleep a week, that is.
Nights can be endless when you’re trying to find something that helps for even a few minutes – distraction, massage, anything – and hope becomes hard to find. You start to wonder what the doctor can do, what tools still might be in the box, especially for the woman who’s allergic to almost everything.
And then. One day after the worst night of all. One change in medicine, so small we weren’t sure it could possibly work.
We’d both forgotten what that felt like.
Heather’s not completely motionless at night. But the big battle is over. What’s left is on mute – uncomfortable, sometimes even still painful, but not hopeless. She can sleep and rest and rebuild.
Just one change can make all the difference in the world.
That’s true for a family. For a state. For a nation.
Maybe it’s the small suggestion at the end of a hard day that makes everything brighter for a minute. (“Hey, Missy, how about we grab some ice cream?”)
Maybe it’s the promise of snow after weeks of fire, bringing the cold and the wet to where it’s most needed.
Maybe it’s the election year reminder, after too many commercials and too much junk mail, that we have the power to change things. To decide who we should keep and who should go, to vote against what weakens us and for what makes us stronger.
Whatever it is, it’s a reminder.
What was, doesn’t have to be.
I don’t want to just stop at Lincoln’s favorite lesson, “This too shall pass.” For me, that’s a little too …well, passive. In my mind, it’s clearer to say “This too shall change.”
Some changes we simply have to endure and make the best of. But some we can touch. Some even start with us. They may not be big changes, but small ones can propagate, whether it’s the crack that brings down a foundation or the seed that someday shades the entire yard.
That’s a cause for hope. That even our worst situations are unstable at their roots. That with work and effort and determination, something new can emerge. Probably not perfect. Almost certainly with problems of its own. But nonetheless, something we can build from.
The cast of Les Miserables once sung in hope that “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” They weren’t wrong. The light’s still there. Waiting.
That sounds simple. We know it’s anything but.
But difficult isn’t impossible.
And when the big battle is over – any of the big battles – maybe we can even take a moment to rest.
Anyone up for a kung fu movie?