This Rare Night

On nights when Collin is sick, I sleep with my glasses on.

I leave the screen of his video monitor lit, glowing blue over my pillow. He doesn't call out when he needs me. He doesn't make noise when he's distressed. Much relies on being able to open my eyes and, in a glance, assess the situation.

When he is congested, we use an oxygen tank instead of the BiPAP machine, and the change makes it hard for me to go to sleep. I am used to hearing every one of his pressurized breaths and seeing the dark straps of the mask, so the small shine of the nasal cannula and the low whir of white noise feel strange to me.

But on those nights, we use a pulse oximeter. Collin's sleep has improved so much that we don't use it on typical nights, but the monitor becomes a way for me to find sleep on the nights Collin isn't well. With alarms guarding safe upper and lower limits, its silence is an assurance. When the little red light on his finger probe flickers to life, it becomes possible for me to drift off, because if his breathing or heart rate are veering off course, the probe will tell the monitor and the monitor will tell me.

Invariably, however exhausted I am, the morning after a night like this has a special sweetness. Maybe it's feeling glad the night is over. Maybe it's being especially in tune with Collin's needs or the long hours of togetherness. But on those mornings, he looks even more like a miracle to me than usual.