Creativity, Challenge Assumptions 3, A Short Story
Challenge Assumptions 3: A Creative Solution The First Year Anniversary: A Short Story Submitted by Team Los Tiburones Jorge Gonzalez-Garcia, Fred Lamora, December 11, 2012
•• “Emily, honey, are you sleeping all right?” her father asked. She and her younger brother, Peter, and her dad, Mark, were gathered around the breakfast table. “I’m okay, dad. Just not getting enough sleep. That’s all.” Emily replied. Her dad looked at her and tried to smile. “I know it’s hard right now for you, and Peter, and all of us,” her father said. “But, it’ll get better as time goes on. In the meanwhile, please let me know how I can help. And, when you need to talk, I’m here.” Now it was Emily’s turn to smile. She reached across the table and put her hand over her father’s. “Thanks, dad,” Emily said. “I appreciate that.”
The one-year anniversary of Emily’s mom death was coming up onDecember 15, only five days away. Emily had been dreading theanniversary, but this morning, for some reason, she felt better about it.And, she had come up with an idea for commemorating her mom’spassing in a way that would be more fitting and emotionally easier oneveryone. Emily’s idea was to have a picnic at her mom’s gravesite, in theDay of the Day tradition celebrated in Latin America. She wanted to feelgood about her mom’s life and memory, not keep mourning her death. Itfelt like they had done enough of that, and now it was time to move on.The question was how to get her dad and brother to go along.
Meanwhile, she was trying to be supportive of her brother and father. She could seehow the grieving and sadness had worn them down. Her brother was 12, andsometimes he seemed fine, but other times completely lost. Her dad was doing hisbest to keep up a brave front for the both of them, but she could see the lingeringpain in his eyes, and the haggard look on his face. Emily was feeling all of that, too.She was trying to keep herself together just like they were. And, now theaccumulated emotional stress was affecting her sleep. Night after night she tossedand turned, thoughts of her mom’s fight against the deadly cancer swirling around inher head.
The constant sleeplessness was also starting to affect her performance awayfrom home. She would find herself nodding off during class, and drifting off ather part-time job. In the mirror, her eyes looked red, with dark circlesunderneath. She knew she needed good rest to stay strong and focused. Forher dad and her brother, not to mention herself. But, the memories still cameevery night no matter what she tried. There wasn’t much she could do exceptswallow a sleeping pill and nod off. But, the pills made her feel hung over thenext morning. And, so the vicious cycle of worry and exhaustion would start allover again. Emily was on a physical and emotional roller coaster, with no ideahow to get off.
• This morning though she was determined to cut through it once and for all. And, she knew someone who might be able to help--her yoga teacher, Samantha. With a little luck, they could come up with a better way for her to get the sleep she needed. If not, things were going to start going downhill fast. Emily decided to talk with Samantha at her next class on Saturday. Just one day away. She felt a small surge of confidence, something she hadn’t felt in months. Okay, she told herself: Steady now, just focus on one thing at a time. And let the other stuff disappear.•
Saturday came and she went up to Samantha right after yoga class. “Nice to see you,Emily. How’s it going?” Samantha asked. “I’m okay. No, actually, I’m not so good rightnow,” Emily replied. Samantha looked closely at her 17-year-old student. “You looksad and tired, and that’s not good,” Samantha said. “Talk to me, tell me how I canhelp.” Emily told her how she was having trouble sleeping. And how the sleeping pillsmade her feel hung over. Samantha listened quietly as Emily described what she hadbeen going through. At the end, Samantha smiled and put her arm around Emily. “Iknow how lousy I felt when my mom died,” Samantha said. “So, I think I can relate, atleast a little bit. And, I have an idea for your sleeplessness. And, the best part is--nomeds, it’s all natural.”
• After class, they went to a nearby cafe to talk. Samantha described a natural way she had learned to reconnect with her sleep rhythms. “I learned it from a friend of mine who is a nurse and a yoga teacher,” Samantha said. “She taught it to me when I was going through a rough time after my husband and I separated. I can teach it to you, if like.” “Samantha, I’m sorry, I just can’t afford another class right now,” Emily said. Samantha laughed. Emily looked puzzled. “Emily, I care about you, so don’t even think about paying me for this,” Samantha said. “Are we clear on that? Emily nodded her head. “Sure, I understand,” Emily said. “And, thank you. It means a lot to me. Especially, right now.”
• Samantha explained the seven-step plan that her friend had taught her. “It’s based on understanding the natural rhythm of sleep we all have deep within us,” Samantha told Emily. “And, reconnecting with that natural rhythm so that you can have deep, restful sleep every night. Let me describe the steps, and then we’ll get into each one more in depth,” Samantha continued. “First, you need to recognize that what you do during sleep and awake cycles impacts how well you sleep at night. Second, you have to examine what you do and what you think about sleep in an honest and open way. Third, you need to explore your attitudes and your relationship with sleep. And, learn how to let all the negative emotions go out of your daily routine.” Samantha continued until she had covered all seven steps of the plan.
Then she paused and watched Emily’s expression, looking for a positive sign.And, there it was, a small spark. Emily’s mood began to brighten. The gleamwas slowly coming back into her eyes. This girl is strong, Samantha thought toherself. “Emily, you are going to get through this fine,” Samantha said. “I’mhoping, but to tell you the truth, I’m not so sure right now,” Emily replied.“What makes you think I will?” “Emily, I think you will because you’re a lotstronger than I was when I was your age,” Samantha answered. “And, givenyour mom’s death, and everything you’ve gone through, that’s all you need.”