It’s hard to sleep in August

Sleep has become a thing lately. An issue. Tonight was a great example. I fell asleep quickly after a long day, only to wake three hours later and wrestle with thoughts for 2-3 hours. Somewhere after 3am I managed to re-enter somnia, but was jarred awake again at 545 by the weekly mobile Sturm and Drang production on my street, courtesy of Louisville’s garbage collection team. They start with a ponderous, slow and loud backup of the infernal machine down my dead end street, engines revved and backup warning beeping like some nightmare alarm clock. Then they work their way back toward my place with as much shouting and banging as one can imagine, creeping closer and closer to my doorstep until they seem right in the room with me. The auditory violence is impressive. There’s just no going back to sleep after that.

And it’s not really a surprise that I’m wrestling with thoughts late at night right now. August is an auspicious month for my family, a month to be reckoned with. All three of my brothers were born in August, and I’m thankful they’re all still around to celebrate birthdays. August 1st, 9th and 26th – all great days with something to celebrate. And grandson Hudson was born on August 17th, a wonderful event, but his actual birthday ushered in a whole set of events that still haunt me.

The night of August 16th 2017 we got a frantic, scared call from Emily to get to KY ASAP. Her pregnancy led to late-stage complications and she was calling either from the hospital or on the way. I remember bouncing out of bed *fast* and calling airlines as we rushed out the door for a middle of night drive down to San Diego. We boarded the first flight out – I was as frightened and nervous ever in my life, and I remember vividly when we got the text somewhere over Colorado that Em was OK and Hudson had been born. The folks around me had to put up with me sobbing for a bit and then it was just mentally urging the plane forward, minute by minute. We made it to Louisville early afternoon on the 17th during a world-class downpour of rain and drove to see Em and meet Hudson at the hospital. Those two days were marked by terror and joy.

August 18th 2018 was the end of my full-time employment, my sort-of retirement date. It was a bittersweet ending. I was happy to stop working for other people, and really happy to stop the daily commute to and from the office. But my new asshole boss, part of the reason for my earlier-than-planned departure, put a dark cloud on the events. Hearing about him being frog-marched out of the building nine months later for corruption/ethics reasons was some small satisfaction.

The following week, the week we’re in right now though six years later, has become just as memorable. On August 21st we got to see a total solar eclipse in Kentucky, my first ever in the umbra, the zone of full eclipse. It was eerie and memorable – we drove almost to the KY-TN border to see it.

But that same day, August 21st, the man I considered my second father died. Jim Moore died in a hospital in Mt. Sterling the day of the eclipse. I had visited him and his wife Mattie, my second Mom, just two days before. We knew Jim didn’t have long, as chronic kidney disease and failure overtook him. Jim and Mattie have been a part of my life since I was a little guy. So it was fitting that I made my way to Mt. Sterling yesterday on the anniversary of Jim’s death to spend some time with her. She lives there alone now, and I’m glad I was in town and able to go see her on a tough day.

And Mattie’s birthday is August 6th. More August auguries.

Same week but five years after that, on August 23rd a year ago, my Dad died. I got the word during a business meeting in San Diego, and once again I left for an unplanned emotional flight across country. There was no joy of any type in that transaction, though. Just the thankfulness that Dad’s long illness was over. Covid took him out, though congestive heart failure weakened him so that Covid could strike the final blow. It’s been a year but it feels like yesterday.

August is also the month in which I’ve had my two life-changing surgeries. August 31, 2020 I had my right knee replaced. And August 8th this year a final surgery marked the blessed end of my two-month long struggle with kidney stones and infection.

So August is a month of births and deaths, some weirdness and some illness, way too many clustered in the month for my mental health. There’s a lot on my mind in this month, which likely leads to the aforementioned sleep dysfunction. When I list all the auspicious days – August 1, 6, 8, 9, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 26, and 31 – it’s quite a lot going on in one month. You’d think all that terror and joy would be spread out among the 12 months, but there it is, clustered in August.

I think I’ll skip the rest of the month and go straight into September. Maybe get some sleep then.

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