We’ve been talking this month about truth being stranger than fiction.. Yesterday, I shared with you some stories about a few of the wacky things my sister Michelle has done while she was sleepwalking. Some of those were because she was on medication that had the side effect of “somnambulism” (or sleepwalking) which heightened her predisposition to walk around after she went to sleep. But even without medication, stress and anxiety can cause sleepwalkers to do what they do. There’s one more thing you should know. Wide awake, Michelle is not a confrontational person at all. In fact, she’s a bit of a wimp. As a matter of fact, there have been plenty of times that she’s found herself in the middle of a disagreement with someone, and then unbeknownst to me, she’s volunteered me to step in and give her opponent a what-for. But I digress.
We lived in New York at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks. We weren’t in New York City, but we were roughly an hour away. However, a lot of people we knew worked in the city, and a few actually worked in one of the Twin Towers.
On the day of the attacks, my son Jeremy was seven years old. His class was told exactly what had happened, and his school was dismissed early. My daughter Stefani was in middle school at the time, and her school was dismissed about an hour later, though they weren’t told why. I worked directly for the Vice President of a hospital, and I was not allowed to leave because we had to dispatch emergency crews from all of our affiliate medical centers to the City. My sister worked for a pest control company.
After the first tower was hit, many of the phone lines were down. I was able to call my sister and ask her to go home and be with my kids since I couldn’t call my house. Michelle left work, though her boss demanded that she stay. (Because of course when our nation was under attack, people would be calling in to get their earwigs under control!) So she had a confrontation with her boss whom she already didn’t like, and then she left. Her boss told her to not bother returning – ever. As she drove home, she was rerouted because there was a suspected bomb on the bridge. She had to drive another 50 miles North to the next bridge then find her way home from there. (We didn’t have GPS back then, and Michelle is bad with directions.) It was late that evening before I got home, but in the meantime, Michelle was there with spotty phone reception, spotty television reception, and two scared kids that didn’t understand what was happening. So, needless to say, Michelle was stressed.
Fast forward a few more hours. Late that night, after a very long day at work, and of course the turmoil that our whole nation felt, I was completely minding my own business, sound asleep in my bed downstairs from Michelle and my kids. Michelle, however, was not sleeping so soundly.
A couple of hours after I drifted off to sleep, I was jolted awake by the sound of something that can best be described by clapping one’s hands together loudly. But then it dawned on me, the sound I heard was not that of someone clapping their own hands, but the sounds of someone slapping me in the face! Hard. I sat straight up, and only briefly saw a silhouette standing over me, when BAM! Michelle punched me in the face and gave me a black eye! Then she giggled then ran out of the room.
I chased my sister back to her room upstairs, which she apparently forgot, and I slept the rest of the night with one eye open. The next morning as I prepared to leave for work, Michelle came downstairs, then looked at me and said, “Oh, Rachel! You’ve got a black eye! What happened to you?” (She really had no clue, but such is the life of a sleepwalker.)
Now, I’ll ask you, when you’ve seen those movies or read in the headlines about sleepwalkers who’ve killed their spouse or parent-in-law, did you believe them? Have you ever been afraid to go to sleep?