Memoir Nonfiction

I Cry Myself to Sleep at Night Sometimes

I close my eyes and there you are. I’m listening to the music now. It’s dark now. No one knows I cry myself to sleep at night sometimes.

Photo: Jeffrey Pillow. “Daddy’s Shoes.” Licensed under CC-BY-SA

SOMETIMES I CRY myself to sleep at night. My children are unaware I do this. My wife asleep beside me is unbeknownst to the tears that well up in my eyes, that run from the corners of each eye down to my ears as my head rests on the pillow. They never reach my cheeks.

I can feel the wet streaks as they nestle behind each earlobe on the pillow.

This is the time I remember my dad. Sometimes I hear his voice. Other times I forget what it sounds like. I wish I could remember what it sounded like those times I forget. Speak, memory, Nabokov once said.

But his laugh I never trouble in recalling from memory.

It’s late, always. The room is pitch black. It’s so quiet.

There’s a playlist I created on Spotify called “Day.” Coincidentally, I only listen to it at night. In ways, it has become the soundtrack of my tears, triggering one memory after the next of my dad.

“Nothing It Can,” by Helios sets the tone. “Leaving Safe Places,” by Random Forest is next. “Fragment II,” by Library Tapes, “Small Memory,” by Jon Hopkins, and “Light the Night” by Tracey Chattaway follow. In truth, I often repeat these first two songs over and over until I fall asleep, the tears at first wet, then dry.

The tears are never salty, rarely warm. I’ve come to notice this peculiarity after so many occasions.

The house is dark and it is quiet. No one knows I cry myself to sleep at night sometimes.

I don’t make any sound. I just lay there on my back in bed with calm music in my ears and thoughts of my dad in my head.

The tears are of sadness, of loss. I am okay with this. We suppress so much. Our emotions. They scare us. We treat them like second class citizens we dare not touch instead of the guides in life they are. We create this foreign city we walk and then wonder why we get lost. Don’t get too close.

He’s been gone seven years now, my dad. I can think about him again now. It’s been so long since I could think of you. I’m so glad I can see your face again, see your smile.

“I just don’t feel right,” you said.

“You know your body better than anyone. If something doesn’t feel right, you need to go to the doctor,” I said.

I was driving home from work when you called.

Whenever I want to see you, I can now. I’m not afraid anymore. I just close my eyes. I close my eyes and there you are. I’m listening to the music now. It’s dark now. No one knows I cry myself to sleep at night sometimes.

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Photo: Jeffrey Pillow. “Daddy’s Shoes.” Licensed under CC-BY-SA

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated,, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

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