One Night Owl Awakes Another

“Are you getting ready for bed?”

It’s a question I get almost every night from my wife. She’s usually already in bed, half asleep under the covers reading a book, and I am usually still dressed in my day clothes, putzing around in the study, nowhere near ready for bed.

Source: Stuart Richards, Flikr
Source: Stuart Richards, Flikr

On many nights, when I finally make it to the bedroom, the lights are already off and I have to move about quietly in the darkness, like a thief looking for my pajamas and toothbrush.

Yes, I am a night owl.

And so is my teenage daughter H, who nests in her bed with her laptop, phone, and schoolbooks around her, and with all the lights in her bedroom on. This is where I find her when I’m finally ready to say goodnight. “Don’t stay up too late,” I tell her. “I won’t,” she says. We hug and kiss each other goodnight, and then I go to my nest, where I lie in the darkness until I fall asleep.

When the alarm goes off at 6:30 am, I am unable to move. My early bird wife is gone, out for her morning exercise, which leaves me to wake up my daughter for school. One night owl waking another.

At 6:37 am, I summon enough energy to get out of bed and head to my daughter’s room. She is cocooned in her sheets, with only her head visible. I stroke her cheek gently with the back of my hand. “Time to wake up,” I say, and it takes her a few seconds to move, to turn her head toward me with half-open eyes. “What would you like for breakfast?” I ask. In a sleepy whisper, her response is always the same: “Life.”

She means the breakfast cereal Life, but I take it more literally these days: she wants to experience life today.

This daily exchange between my daughter and me, two night owls at sunrise, has become my morning prayer.  

I want life today too — not just for me, but for my wife and children, my mom and sister, the rest of my family and friends, and good people everywhere.

For my daughter H, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) four years ago, life is not something she takes for granted. If she had been born before insulin was discovered in 1921, she would have died as a child. Today, thanks to insulin and other medical advancements, she can lead a long and healthy life. But she has to work for it: pricking her finger numerous times a day to test her blood sugar, counting the carbs she eats before every meal, wearing an insulin pump on her body, and feeling crappy sometimes when her blood sugar is too high or too low.

It is why her request for breakfast shakes me awake every morning and gives me the energy to take flight every day with purpose.

Therefore, on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for life and family and all it brings. I wish you all, night owls and early birds, a blessed life — from sunrise to sunset, sunset to sunrise,

take flight.

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