Since Natalie's death, I have become unusually aware of breathing--that simple act we all do thousands of times a day, usually without even noticing. I think it is because Natalie stopped breathing that I am so hypersensitive to it. When I check on Roslyn after she's gone to sleep, I first listen for the sound of her breathing. If I can't hear her, I rush over and touch her cheek or forehead to feel if she's warm. This usually causes her to stir, take a deep breath, and move around a little, but not wake up. Sometimes, I've been in a panic and pounced on my poor sleeping daughter to make sure she's OK. Once I feel reassured that she's fine, I say "Thank you, Roslyn" (for not dieing).
Since we've been having our kitchen remodeled, Roslyn has been sleeping in our room, in a cozy "nest" on the floor next to my side of the bed. I love having her so close so that I can hear her breathing when I wake in the middle of the night. I also listen to hear Chris's breathing. Sometimes, I have to listen really closely to figure out whose breathing I am hearing. If it's Chris, I lean over and touch Roslyn. If it's Roslyn, I reach over and touch Chris. Reassured that my two loved ones are safe, I can then go back to sleep.
More often than not, going back to sleep is hard for me. Inevitably, my thoughts turn to Natalie. I am flooded with images of her on the morning of March 18. Seeing her dead face, feeling her cold, stiff body. I relive that horror over and over and over. I have wondered if it's a form of "post-traumatic stress," and I think that it is. Sometimes I lie awake for hours, trying to change my thoughts so I can go back to sleep. But then the flashbacks creep in and I am forced to relive it again. I cry and cry and then, exhausted, I eventually drift off.