I fall asleep every night thinking happy thoughts. I have family and friends, after all, and most of my needs are met.
But always, right around four o'clock in the morning, I awake with a troubled mind. The darkest hour is right before the dawn, they say. This certainly seems to be true for me.
I begin to ponder the great mysteries. Are we alone in the universe? Is there eternal life? Then I begin to evaluate my own life. Have I ever kicked my dog, hit my child, borne false witness, taken what wasn't mine?
I feel as though worms of doubt are crawling through my gray matter. Perhaps it is just a vestige of my Catholic upbringing, but I begin to wonder if I need to make amends, somehow.
These questions build and build in my troubled mind until I reach the point of what I would describe as night terrors. Is it devils with pitchforks that I fear? Is it simply the darkness? I find myself on the brink of the thumb-sucking stage. It was the same when I had a husband sleeping beside me. I reach out to pet my cat for comfort and solace.
I suspect it is the isolation of the human condition that troubles me. I think of the immortal Stanley Kunitz poem, The Science of the Night. Even at the moment of climax, two lovers feel their isolation. I think of John Lennon's great song, Imagine. What if there really is "only sky above?"
I toss and turn until dawn streaks the sky in hues of peach and violet. I can finally reassure myself that the night has passed. I promise myself that I will be kind to others today and help however I can.
It's morning now, so I tell myself, so what if the universe is a cold and lonely place? There is still the warmth of human flesh, of a beating heart.We are alone in a vast and empty space only if we allow ourselves to be.