Insomnia and Dementia’s Foggy Wilderness

Insomnia and Dementia’s Foggy Wilderness

Work begins officially, again, this morning. Meeting at 8am, all staff assembled for the first time since summer vacation began in June. We got back from Ireland on Sunday night, after a 24hr travel day. Since then I’ve been waking a little after 3am, unable to sleep, tossing and turning, the brain full of conflicting, colliding, elliptical ideas about student engagement, writing strategies, books to read, etc., etc.

Coffee is brewing, the crunch of leaves outside the window from a skunk wandering the orchard is the only sound to be heard. This is the time to write, I tell myself. Two spring-clipped manuscripts hang from the wall in front of me. The poster of Jesus’ face by Evie Hone looks down at me. Searching a churchyard in the west of Ireland I found one of her stained glass windows, but it was practically invisible due to the metal grille protecting it from most likely having the lead stripped away and sold.

Life is a series of interconnected moments. We walked into the large entrance room of Crosshaven House, booked by my wife, and there on a bookcase was a photograph of one of my former bosses from when I was in my early-twenties. Next to it in a frame, his obituary. I knew of his untimely, terrible death and found the synchronicity of staying in a place he used to own quite strange. More-so, the next day I got an email from an old friend who had worked with me back in the old days for the same guy. The email, totally out of the blue. We met in Trim for lunch to catch up on life and family and children and lost time.



Back in America the assault of daily news from our divided country batters my ears. In lreland a sense of safety from the political vitriol prevailed, an almost serene atmosphere where the news couldn’t break through the neolithic gravesites, the red deer crossing our path, nor could it penetrate the sheep-track we drove over for ten or more kilometers as we marveled at the beauty of my homeland. Instead, we wandered boggy fields in search of frogs, stared at towering sea stacks, drank perfect pints of Guinness, poured expertly by various barmen, and spent time with my mother as she disappears, step-by-step into the foggy distance of dementia’s wilderness.




Now the new school year beckons. New faces, students and staff, all holding on to the same hope and expectations for an exciting, rewarding and hopefully uneventful new year. May we have no fires, floods, or mudslides, may we write and read and create magic, may we embrace our differences and celebrate our shared humanity, may we explore new paths to equity and understanding and bring joy and curiosity to our classrooms.

2 Replies to “Insomnia and Dementia’s Foggy Wilderness”

  1. Good to hear of your times in Eire. Sorry about your mom. We’re going through this with my father-in-law too. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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