Last night I was up late.
Oh yeah, I know there’s many nights that I stay up late writing and don’t publish my stories until after midnight and maybe get to bed by 1.
But last night? I published my story at 3:12 a.m.
And fell asleep three minutes later, as soon as my head hit the pillow.
It’s like this when my baby brother is around. We stay up late. Later and later each night. And last night was his last night here this visit, so we went for the record.
He went upstairs to bed after 2:30 a.m. I could have gone straight to bed then, but as Bubba was standing there about to head up the stairs, it hit me what a precious time this is–this time being with him in the late night quiet– and the letter to my children starting writing itself and wouldn’t go away. I wanted and needed to put it in words.
This keeping each other up late goes way back. When I had moved back home with my oldest when she was quite small and Bubba came home from college, he would come in some nights and sit on the foot of my bed. Yes, I was in bed. Ready for sleep. And that boy would sit there talking and engaging me in conversation until I started talking foolishness and he felt like his goal was achieved. One night in particular was fifteen years ago. My eyes were drooping and I could not keep them open. He asked me a question and I remember replying something like, “God…..Jesus…..Hot dogs…..Elephants.” The last thing I heard as I passed out was the sound of my brother laughing triumphantly as he headed down the hallway to his room. He had won.
This visit we’ve both held our own. 1:30 a.m. 12:30 a.m. 2 a.m. And then last night. After 2:30. At one point I thought I had him. His eyes were glazed and they almost drooped. I wasn’t sure he was really listening, and then I’ll be dog if he didn’t answer my question. Coherently.
A little while later we were solving the world’s problems and he was sharing his thoughts. I felt myself losing my grip. I shook my head and continued to listen. Then I had a thought to share. And in the middle of it…..those elephants and hot dogs started floating around in my mind. I totally lost my train of thought. I don’t know if he noticed, but I stumbled for a second during which I had no idea what we were talking about–and then luckily I got back on track.
That was close. He almost won.
In the end I think we were both winners. We’ve had some hard conversations and some mirthful moments. I haven’t laughed this hard in quite a while nor have I challenged myself to think about some of the things we’ve discussed in a long, long time. It’s been really good. And powerful. And…..precious.
So tonight I’m thankful for sleep-deprived nights in the company of someone who knows me better than most folks who know me do. I give thanks for his family’s safe journey down to see us, for the time that we worked to take care of business and for the times that we kicked back and just enjoyed being together. Most importantly I give thanks for the gift of family. For without them, none of the rest of what I have or am would matter one bit.
And I guess tonight my baby brother wins. As he stays up driving all night to get his family safely back home, I’m calling it a night early and heading to bed. No talking goofy, no droopy eyes, I say “uncle” and bow to the champion. This time. You win tonight, Bubba.
Wishing you all someone to stay up and have heart to hearts with.
Love and a GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP to all.