It was one of those nights! Amanda, as a baby always had difficulties falling asleep. We later discovered this was likely due to her ADHD, but at the time, we didn’t have a clue why our baby seemed to want to be up all night when the rest of the universe was sound asleep. Even when all her bodily needs were taken care of – diaper changed, just fed, comfy bed – she was still up wanting to ‘play’ all night. She wasn’t colicky either because as soon as we would walk into her room, having given up on letting her cry herself to sleep, she would gaze at us with shining eyes, with her most engaging smile on her face – “Oh goody, here’s mommy (or daddy) coming to play with me!”, written all over her face. It wouldn’t have been so bad had we also been night owls or if we didn’t have to get up in the morning and work like normal human beings! This went on night after night, and I began to despair of ever getting a good night’s sleep again.
On this particular night, Amanda seemed more insistent on being entertained and was up even later than usual. What were we to do? We had morning engagements to take care of. Then we thought of the guest room downstairs… We decided to tough this one out and just move downstairs. We proceeded to do so, with the din of a screaming baby following us as we made our guilty way downstairs, hugging our pillows, feeling like the worst parents on earth. Even with all doors shut and being a floor below, on my side with my finger in my free ear, I could hear the wails wafting down to us. It was still hard to get to sleep! But apparently somehow, we managed to do so and awoke a couple hours later with the sunlight streaming into our window. Naturally, our exhausted daughter was in her bed soundly sleeping.
Later that morning when I had a bit of free time, I decided to pay a visit to our Sikh neighbours right next door. I had a whopping headache from lack of sleep and wasn’t much good for getting anything else done anyway. A visit with a friend might do me good. The woman was also a stay-at-home mom, and we enjoyed each other’s company. I made my way there calling out a cheery ‘Hodi!” as I approached the door (‘hodi’ is the standard greeting when approaching a home – the Kenyan equivalent of knocking on the door). My neighbour greeted me warmly and invited me in. We chatted while drinking the ubiquitous cup of sweet, milky tea (always made zestier with spices in Indian homes). Noticing my rather ragged appearance, Kalvant asked me if I had had a rough night. I answered in the affirmative, describing my sleep-deprived headache and the desperation of the previous night. She kindly smiled and chirped in her Punjabi accent, “Yes, we could hear Amanda crying last night”. What?! You mean she was that loud?! Oh, no, now on top of having a daughter who turns maniac at night, we could be child abuse suspects! She continued, chuckling, “Yes, we were watching the telly (television) last night in bed (to be fair, their bedroom faced ours and Amanda’s rooms with only a narrow strip of land between the houses) and I asked Ranjit (her husband) what that noise was. He turned the down the volume, listened and said ‘Oh, that’s Amanda.’ We watched a bit more, then he turned to me and said, ‘They’ll never have another one!’” We both laughed so hard the tears ran down our cheeks. Never truer words were spoken! But I did not enlighten her that we had already decided our quiver was full at 3 children and had made up our minds to stop at 3 even before the Dreaded Night incident.
Its amazing, but my headache seemed to have lessened with that good laugh and with my neighbour’s kindness, or maybe it was the strong, spicy tea. But I like to think it was the laughter and comradery of friendship that was the good medicine. Life’s like that. It seems we can go through nearly anything if we are not alone, if we have a good, trusted friend with whom we can share our troubles, our challenges, and our sorrows.
Years earlier when Joshua, our firstborn was an infant in the hospital having just been diagnosed with severe heart defects, good friends convinced us to come over for a meal, fed us, and regaled us with jokes and funny memories. We laughed despite our grief. At first, I felt like I was betraying our son by laughing when he was in such perilous state, but soon realized that the healing laughter with good friends strengthened me to be there for my son when he needed me to be strong.
Some years later back in Kenya, when I received news that my older brother had died of complications of a life-long heart condition, our church home group gathered in our home to condole with us. I definitely did not feel like being neighbourly and wasn’t too keen about them being present when I was in grief. However, our group leaders asked where our family photos were, basically insisting I get our books out so they could look at family photos. They skilfully drew fond memories out of me and soon enough I was smiling and even laughing. Was that a betrayal of my brother? No, I think of it as a healing time for me, and I suspect my neighbours knew it would be so.
Friends are so very important in our lives. Even the strongest of introverts needs at least 1-2 good friends. I am reminded of a scripture passage that says “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV). There are times when a good friend can bring more healing and help than even blood relatives can. This can be true whether one lives close to family or, like us, far away. I am grateful for the close friends I have had over the years here in Kenya and back in the U.S. I pray that I am as good a friend to them as they have been to me.
Chip · July 13, 2021 at 3:37 pm
Love this story. You made me cry. Thanks.