Practice for dying

New Year’s Eve 2015, we as a family felt there was in impending change on the horizon. We didn’t realize how soon it would come. As I related in my post called “Trauma,” we had had an armed robbery with gunfire seven years earlier. Amber and I had both recovered from that fairly well, well enough to keep living in the area. The main thing we struggled with long-term was paranoia of strangers and hypersensitivity to loud noises, especially at night.

One New Year’s Day (2016), the local army detachment joined in the celebrations by firing their small arms and their large-bore canon. When this happened, Amber and the girls were home alone as I was up on the ridge visiting some people. Hearing the gunfire, Amber couldn’t tell what it was about since our house had no line of vision to the ridge were most of our neighbors lived. The big booms and the uncertainty triggered her traumatic memories and fear response. She felt panicky, and even though I soon came home and reassured her that everything was fine, something had transpired in her nervous system.

Soon thereafter, she lost her ability to sleep! We had only been able to stay and work in that area because our sleep had been really good for the most part. Without it, we could not have coped with the many intense stresses we faced on a daily basis. Once Amber’s sleep started to deteriorate, the burdens of running her home clinic, homeschooling the girls, receiving visitors, homemaking, and supporting me in my linguistic work (yeah, that is a lot, isn’t it?) became too much. With her balance out of kilter, my balance got thrown off as well. The tight ship we had been running of our lives started to sink fast. So we jumped in our lifeboat (ability to leave and go south for R&R) and sailed off at first opportunity.

January 7, 2016 (Timu):

Before last night, my dear Amber had gone three nights in which she couldn’t fall asleep before 4:00 a.m. She’s been miserable and frustrated at night and exhausted during the day. We’ve been praying for sleep, and in its absence, for grace and peace. All week God has been faithful to grant the latter, and last night, at last, my dear Amber slept, slept oh so gloriously.

January 8 (Timu):

Amber didn’t sleep the entire night last night, not a single minute. Sleep anxiety is making her heart speed up whenever she’s almost asleep….

January 9 (Timu):

Amber had a miserable day, insomnia and anxiety. She had a mini-breakdown in the afternoon and then called Dr. J. who suggested she take meds to help her sleep. Thankfully, Amber found 20 pills of Valium in her stash. She took two before going to bed. I still need to confirm it, but I think she got some sleep – I certainly hope so!

January 13 (Kampala):

At some point over the weekend, we decided to drive to Kampala, to get away from our tormentor and get some medical tests done. We spent Sunday morning at the R’s, and they encouraged us in that direction. Plus, my toe was infected. I had a fever and felt like hell the whole day. Amber had taken 10 mg of Valium the night before and still couldn’t sleep. We were a wreck.

After spending some time in Kampala getting rest and perspective, we decided it was time for us to uproot our lives in Ikland and move south for recuperation.

January 22 (Kampala):

We have now decided for certain to move down here to Kampala at the end of February. With any major decision like that come doubts and twinges of sadness. Our lovely  home that we imagined, designed, built, lived in, and enjoyed – we are now preparing to leave behind forever. I care less about the individual items we have and more about the home as a whole, what it stood for in our fragile lives. But having to leave it all behind is good practice for…dying. We will be tempted to cling to what is known and secure instead of taking leaps of faith into an unknown future. Moving to Kampala is a leap of faith. We feel it is time for a new direction in life; it’s just that we had been thinking that required a move to America. Before these last two weeks, it never occurred to us that we could live in Kampala for a few months.

As it is, we are eager to get back to Timu for as single purpose: pack up and get ready to move. This is what we have been longing for for a long time. Now it is becoming reality. Instead of being uncertain about it, we should embrace this change with courage, hope, and joy. Change means the death of old lifeways and the birth of new ones.

January 24 (Timu):

The night before last, we got ready to leave Kampala and were in bed before 10:00 p.m. Amber went to sleep, but I could not. I got up, went to another room and had a good time of prayer, just laying all our issues before God. Just after midnight, I went back to bed and eventually drifted off to sleep, only to be awoken by the alarm clock at 3:15 a.m. Not long after I went back to sleep, Amber woke up…and stayed awake.

One thing I prayed that night was that we’d have the strength to endure yesterday’s journey, now that we were already exhausted starting out. I just want to report that that prayer was definitely granted. I got sleepy between Jinja and Mbale and between Mbale and Soroti, but the rest of the time, I felt good, surprisingly so, and during the last two hours I felt less weary than I normally do, regardless of how rested I am. Not long after we arrived in Timu, I started to crash, the God-given adrenaline quickly wearing off. Amber and I managed to get in bed by 10 p.m. We went right to sleep. I woke up in the darkness, out of deep dreaming, and thought it was like 3 a.m. But then I checked the clock: 6:30! We had slept hard for nine hours.

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