Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep


circa 1955

“Mommy, there’s a Wolf in my room!”  

I silently wail as I am settling down in my four‐poster mahogany bed for the night. My ears ring. My heart pounds. And my mouth is dry with fear. I huddle as close to the right side of the mattress as I can without rolling off, my knees drawn up into my chest. I’m a tiny ball, becoming invisible to the Wolf…covers over my head. I don’t dare move… not even my big toe.

The Wolf hides underneath my bed on the opposite side from where I’m curled up in a ball. My bed parallels a white window, draped with sheer curtains that gracefully fall over glass panes with a view of our front yard. I love the magnolia tree that’s proudly stands close to my window…but at night, it’s only a memory. 

The Wolf side of the bed is very dark. I can’t see my pale green walls, or my bookshelf stacked with books of all sizes, shapes and colors. This scary creature replaces my friendly books. The white eyelet dust ruffle around the bottom of my high poster bed not only gives this uninvited guest unintentional protection from being seen by anyone but me but also provides plenty of height to crawl under and sneak around. When I turn off my milk glass bedside table lamp, he slowly creeps out from underneath the bed. Even though my back is facing the Wolf side, he feels so big that I’m afraid to go to the bathroom. 

When I walk down our hallway during the daytime, I sometimes run past the locked door that leads downstairs to the basement; it’s easy to glance at the silver lock and see if it’s horizontal, which means the door is firmly locked. The Wolf likes to prowl on the cement floor near the warmth of our coal‐burning furnace that heats the house. 

The nightlight underneath the bathroom sink filters rays of reassuring light into the hallway and casts a pie‐wedge glow onto the threshold of my doorway, making the covers over my head have a warm luster. I can also see there’s really nothing lurking in the shadow of my bed. But…the Wolf could so easily sneak from beneath the bed, leap across the mattress and grab me before I would have time to jump out of bed and run across the hall to the safety of the bathroom nightlight.

But when nighttime blankets my room and I’m safely tucked in,
 I shiver in my bed, hoping that sleep will make the Wolf disappear
 as I whisper my bedtime prayer over and over in a rhythmic mantra… 

“now I lay me down to sleep, now I lay me down to sleep, now I lay me down to sleep.”

Where are you God?

I have felt the presence of God as well as The Wolf many times
since those childhood days of sleeping in my four‐poster mahogany bed. 

The most unforgettable encounter with The Wolf occurred when I was twenty‐five, two weeks before my son’s first birthday and about five months after my husband returned home from Viet Nam. On this occasion, the Wolf staged a full‐blown attack! I wasn’t even home at the time; how did he find me? There was no four‐poster mahogany bed with a dust‐ruffle for him to hide under.  This insidious assault lasted thirty seconds or less – a veiled happening with catastrophic repercussions, instilling   a disconcerting vibration within me, and leaving half a century of dissonance in its wake. 

 “Now I lay me down to sleep” and “The Heavens are telling the glory of God” 

were overpowered.   



Steel gray bars keep me from hugging the edge of the bed. Four wheels replace the dust ruffle at the bottom of the mattress, elevating my bed off the sterile, highly polished linoleum floor. An intense light blinds my eyes with stark whiteness, a naked contrast to the gentle filtered rays of the comforting nightlight of my childhood.

A husky voice filters into my swirling fog, penetrating the bright blurry haze that is everywhere.


The Wolf appears out of nowhere.

I can’t breathe.
I can’t move.
I can’t speak.
I’m defenseless.
I’m aware of my frightening predicament.

He’s snarling, getting ready to jump on me in my helplessness.

Rapid staccato sensations transform my brain into an overloaded circuit board.
The brotherhood of panic and terror burrow into the most primitive part of me,
uninvited guests where Memory dwells.

There’s no place for the Wolf to hide anymore  …what happened to my eyelet dust ruffle?

Breathe through your MOUTH!”

The irritated voice boomed again, rattling my stupor.
I begin to gulp chunks of air.
My diaphragm heaves with labored breathing.
The bright white light penetrates the thick fog as I regain a sense of direction

I can’t escape and run to the safety of the bathroom where the nightlight will make him disappear.

This snarling animal now dares to pin me down, numbing me as he sits on my chest.
His weight is unbearable.
Wrestling and fighting for just one breath of air,
I engage in a silent war of survival with a beast that refuses to move from my solar plexus.

 “Keep breathing through your MOUTH!” 

I determine that the angry reverberating voice is on my left.
The word “mouth” sounds an alarm that stimulates more panic in my confusion.

Mouth! My mouth hurts…..the roof of my mouth hurts!
What’s happened? What’s wrong with my mouth!

“I can’t breathe!

Maybe the beast will just swallow me in one gulp, and it will all be over. 

 A wave of hysteria surges up from the pit of my stomach,
lodging in my throat only to be immediately sucked back down into my gut. 

Sparks of sensation scatter, a firework display between my brain and belly.
A knot is swiftly tied in my throat where sound becomes prisoner. 

He snarls victoriously as he snaps a big chunk from my throat.
His eyes gleam and his jowls drool in anticipation of the kill.

 “Mommy!” my inner voice shrieking,
“the Wolf’s jumped on top of me.
I can’t move!”

No one can hear me.” 

Tidal waves of horror surf up and down my esophagus as I can find no voice and can utter no sound. A dense blanket of fog swirls around me, dimming the bright light and dulling my awareness. I gulp more air through my mouth. My diaphragm jolts as oxygen surges into my lungs. I still have no voice as thoughts somersault with sensation. I become aware that I can breathe even though something is so very wrong with my mouth.

The jolt in my diaphragm unsettles the arrogant beast. 
He retreats, with his tail between his legs.
Air passes into my lungs with laborious inhalations and arrhythmic exhalations. 

Where are you God?