Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I was tiptoeing by my granddaughter's room the other day visiting and heard my daughter saying the prayer she grew up with, with her daughter. This prayer brought back a flood of memories, including a time in my life when I absolutely detested that prayer. It was when I first started to understand what death really meant - probably age 10 or so. That the person who died wasn't coming back. Zombies and scary graveyards.
I used to lie awake, petrified that I was going to die in my sleep and that the Lord would NOT take my soul, or that he'd not know I died, or that I'd be in the firey pits of hell for all eternity.
For months, I was exhausted. It was exhausting trying to keep yourself awake. I'd open up the window and sit on the sill. I'd pinch myself. Drink tons of water so that I'd have to get up and go to the water closet every few minutes. Anything I could do to stop myself from falling asleep.
If I fell asleep, I'd awaken in a panic. Sweating and crying, I'd pinch myself to make sure I was still awake and not about to be eaten by zombies or ghosts or werewolves.
I started doing really badly in school and looked terrible. People began wondering what was wrong with me. I'd be so exhausted I'd nod off in class. At least there, in the daylight and surrounded by people I didn't think they could "get" me there.
I started sleeping in my mother and father's bed. My father didn't like that one bit and was grumbling that I was too old for such foolishness. My mother would soothe me and I'd get a few restless hours of sleep, which was better than nothing.
Slowly I grew out of it. I'd sleep for longer stretches, and started feeling more confident that I'd awaken to my own bed, not having my face eaten alive by a zombie. So gradually I got back to normal.
I still don't really like that prayer though.