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After reading us a book and kissing us goodnight, my parents would always say, “See you in the morning,” as they left me and my little sister in the dark of our shared bedroom.
Now, as an adult, I have continued to pass those words on to my husband, my daughter, and any house guest.
I knew me and my parents couldn’t be the only ones reminding everyone not to die in their sleep, and that we would indeed see each other in the morning, so I started thinking about our ancestors and the origin of this idea.
I grew up in a religious-less house. When I was in fifth grade, my parents told me we were Buddhist after the kids on the school bus said I was going to hell because we didn’t go to church and worship God and Jesus. My mom explained, per the encyclopedia Brittanica, that Buddha had been here before Jesus and we were of the belief that when we died, we would reincarnate.
While this explanation shut the kids up on the bus, it did no favors for me in the friends arena. I had to learn over the years what other kids’ religions were teaching them.
This children’s prayer was said over the bed before sleep by many of my Christian acquaintances:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
The original version was said to be written in the late 1700s, leading me to believe that plague, starvation, war, illness, and misfortune lead parents to this “see you in the morning” sentiment.
As I’ve observed myself share this sentiment over the years, I have often thought of my ancestors and those who came before me—the hardships that befell so many generations. Whether it be illness, war, or starvation, seeing someone the next day must have felt like a miracle. And suggesting that we will see them the next day was a simple ask and prayer.
Today, our losses are minor in comparison—though we’ve lost 600,000 Americans due to COVID-19 and millions worldwide to suicide.
Telling someone you will see them in the morning reminds us all that we are still hoping for the good fortune that sleep will not take us from this world—not today.
And I wonder if when we wake, we can radically shift our time here to remember and observe our good fortune by living the life we have with courage and authenticity.
See you in the morning.
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